Baby Joy

Please find our letter below regarding our precious baby Joy.

Baby Joy

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Longing for the Spirit . . .

Have you ever had that feeling that God is far from your heart?  Or rather, that your heart has gone far from God? A feeling of numbness? A feeling that the emptiness that was once filled by Jesus, that can only be filled by Jesus, is void again? I think we have all been there…

The question is, what do we do once we have realized this has happened? What do we choose to do with the void in our heart? Do we wallow in the emptiness? Do we dwell in the desert? Do we give in to the enemies temptations when we are vulnerable?

Or do we fight? Do we call on the only one who can bring us back to where we should be? Do we clamber our way out of the valley? Do we cling to the only thing we know that dramatically changed our lives… Do we run to God? Do we cry out to Jesus? Do we call on the Holy Spirit?

Because, that is what we should do!

I’m going to be open and candid here, and hope you don’t think less of me… I have been struggling with mild depression the last few months. I have felt lost, and I began thinking of things I have lost, things I have left, people I miss… I also started listening to the enemy who says that I am not doing enough, that I am not good enough, that I am not spiritual enough… And I started wondering if I am supposed to be here in Lesotho. I started doubting God. I heard the enemy say that God doesn’t want to give me the desires of my heart…

Wait, what?!

That stopped me right there in my tracks! My heart said, “Hold on, there… Wake up! Pay attention! God’s Word is Truth, and His word says,

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.’ (Psalm 37:4-7)

“So, what the enemy says is a blatant lie!”

Yep… That’s what Satan does, he lies, and he’s good at it.

Having even that small bit of scripture in my heart, protected me from the lies of the enemy! Thus began the journey out of the valley. I have committed to reading scripture every day and it is helping me get out of the clutches of the enemy, helping me defeat the pulls of depression, and helping me to be content in my circumstances, no matter where they may find me.

My reading has been fairly sporadic over the last year or so, now I know how important it is to keep scripture in our hearts, especially when God has called us to serve where the enemy attacks the most!

I know the Truth. I know that God does not expect me to “do more” or “be more” to lavish his love on me.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

We are forgiven in Christ and have overcome the enemy so Satan no longer has power over us.

“I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:12-14)

We have the power in Christ to not allow ourselves to be lead astray. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and no one who is born of God will continue to sin (1 John 3:8).

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (1 John 3:7-9)

We need to continually feed ourselves on God’s Truth so as to follow His commands and live in Him, and allow Him to live in us, and to keep our hearts right, and our paths straight. Let us hold close the Truth of God and keep it in our hearts. Let us spur one another on to continue in good works, and worship the One True God, for He alone is worthy of our praise.

May 2015 be full of the Lord’s blessing in your lives so that you may bless others.

 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Colossians 3:16

In The Midst of Hurt . . .

Little baby delicately formed, from your tiny nose to your teeny toes.  Placed so gently inside my womb, to carry and love, nourish and grow.  We’ll never get to meet you here upon the earth.  God had other plans, to take you before your birth.  We will never forget you, and hope that one day, when we get to heaven, to see you and Jesus play.  Little baby, unknown, unnamed, in our hearts you’ll always remain.

I wrote that poem in the middle of a deep hurt – a miscarriage.  Never did I think I would experience a loss like this, but here we are.  Our second child is gone, never to have breath on this earth.

In the midst of this hurt, it is difficult to see the silver lining, or to find joy, but God has shown me all the trials of our past, and reminded me how He has redeemed each one in amazing ways! And in seeing His redemption, I have found joy; joy in knowing He has redeemed past hurts, and will continue to redeem my hurts in days to come.

 In the midst of this hurt, He showed me all the gifts He has given us and said to me, in His gentle, fatherly voice, “Don’t look at what you’ve lost… Look at all I have given you.”  God has blessed us with a wonderful marriage, a beautiful son, our health, a roof over our heads, an income, wonderful opportunities to serve others, loving and supportive friends, and the list goes on.

I know this hurt is temporary, and while we will never forget, we will move on, and bask in the gifts and glory of God.

We invite you to pray with us as we walk through this loss and believe for God’s redemption.

This song really touched my heart in going through this time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxZhEcTzn6Q

God Said Wait . . .

Sometimes God gives us a dream, a calling, but doesn’t intend for it to be carried out right away. I waited a few years before actually going on the mission field, and it looks nothing like how I thought it would. In that time I was also waiting to marry the right person, who happened to already be on the mission field; he and I waited longer than we expected to conceive a child; it was longer than we’d expected before we could leave the states. The list goes on.

The point is, God may put an idea in our heads, but He asks us to wait on Him with our hearts.

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God put it on our hearts to provide foster care for orphans. We thought it had already been approved and it was just a matter of formally putting our names down. It turns out, the Ministry of Social Development has turned down our request.

This was heartbreaking news, however, we know that God put it on our hearts with no encouragement from those who had been praying for it, so we know that this is God’s idea. We believe that if He wants this to come to fruition, it will happen. His idea may be for a child in the future, and not necessarily the one I’d mentioned in our previous post.

Beautiful Gate will be submitting an appeal, however, until we get the final word we wait on the Lord, and pray His will be done. Please pray with us as we wait.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
    Blessed are all who wait for him!

~ Isaiah 30:18

A Hopeful Calling

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~ Colossians 3:17

I began volunteering at Beautiful Gate Orphanage in July 2013. I was able to do a modest assessment of some of the kids, mostly babies, who were developmentally delayed. I worked with the volunteers and house-moms showing them some exercises they could do with them.

I was over 7 months pregnant with Matthias at that time and shortly after I began volunteering I became very ill. I was down for a couple of weeks and decided I should probably wait to go back until after Matthias was born.

During my time away, my prayer for Beautiful Gate was that a pediatric Physical Therapist would come and do real evaluations on the children, as I am not qualified to diagnose conditions. At the end of February 2014 I decided it might be time to go back.

Bryan and Anita, the directors of Beautiful Gate, had returned from furlough so I met with Anita over lunch to see what had changed in my absence and discuss what my return might look like now that I have Matthias in tow. We came up with a tentative plan for me to come in the afternoons so she could look after Matthias while I worked with the children who needed it.

 

This little one was brought to the orphanage a couple months ago after being found abandoned on the side of the road...

 

The week after Anita and I met for lunch a work team of 17 people came in from the states. They stayed at the new volunteer house at Beautiful Gate. Unbeknownst to me there was a pediatric Physical Therapist, Donna, on that team! Instead of going with the medical teams as originally planned, she stayed on campus and did assessments of the kids at Beautiful Gate!

An answer to my prayer!

Donna and I met Tuesday night at a braai (B-B-Q) we had to welcome their team. We had an instant connection and we both started rattling off ideas for the different kids. She suggested I come to Beautiful Gate the next day and see the kids with her – of course I jumped at the chance!

 

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~ Now I have to back up a little bit to the time just after Anita and I met,  because I shared what had been put on my heart with a few of the ladies the night of the braai, including Donna. ~

When I left Anita’s that Wednesday, I couldn’t sleep that night. I kept thinking about those kids and how they need so much more care than what they are getting in their houses. They need consistent care and love until they get to a point where they are healthy enough to go back to the orphanage.

They need foster care . . .

but more than that, they need rehabilitative foster care . . .

with someone who could provide rehab for them . . .

someone like . . .

me?

I shared my thoughts with Bryan and he was open to the idea, so we agreed to pray about it. We prayed over the weekend as a family, yes, Matthias included, and we left it expectantly in God’s hands, His very capable hands.

~ Okay, fast forward back to the Wednesday after the braai. ~

I normally go to Bible study on Wednesdays, but I could not pass up the opportunity to follow a Physical Therapist around the Beautiful Gate campus! There I was at the orphanage with Donna and Anita. It was wonderful to see some of the progress those kids have made! The progress of one in particular, we’ll call her Hope, was absolutely beautiful. As we were all sitting there with Hope – Donna doing her therapy, Anita caring for Matthias while I helped Donna – I mentioned to Anita that God had placed it on our hearts (mine and Bryan’s) to do rehabilitative foster care. Anita welled up with tears. Neither Donna nor myself knew what that was about.

I stayed with Anita for a bit after Donna took Hope back to her house. Anita shared with me that she had been praying for a while that a family would volunteer to do foster care. What’s more is that she was going to ask me about it when we met for lunch that Wednesday, but she decided not to,

. . . allowing God to put it on my heart for her.

An answer to her prayer!

Bryan and I both believe that was confirmation of God’s new calling in our life, and we have had even more confirmation since, and so we have decided to move forward with rehabilitative foster care with Beautiful Gate orphanage.

I have found myself on many occasions standing in the doorway of our empty third room just imagining the future it holds for us. Its white walls a canvas of an outpouring of creative love. I spent so many hours, months working on Matthias’ room to make it a peaceful place for him to sleep and play, I want to do the same in the other room. Be it for another child through pregnancy, or foster kids, or both.

. . . we have the room in our home, and the room in our hearts to welcome these kids into our lives.

As an answer to His calling.

Please pray with us for paperwork, details, and placement to go smoothly ~ we may have a child with us as early as May!

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ~ James 1:27

 

Joy Comes in The Morning . . .

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.  Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.  How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!

~ Psalm 127:3-5

One thing having a child has taught me is the overwhelming love a parent can have for a child.  My son doesn’t have to do anything to make me love him, and there’s nothing he can, or should do to try to make me love him more.  

Matthias Four Months

I now understand that we don’t have to do anything for our Father to love us! I love my son with all my heart, and never want to see anything bad happen to him.  And I know that our Heavenly Father loves us with all his heart, and does not want to see bad things happen to us either…

However, that does not mean nothing bad will happen… But, joy comes in the morning!

About a year ago, Bryan and I were in a wonderful season of blessing.  We were enjoying it, but we were both a little overwhelmed at the love and blessing poured out on us.  We had that mentality that made us wonder, “When is the other shoe going to drop?”  We just knew there would be trials ahead of us.  That did not stop us from enjoying the season, but somehow we knew it would not last long.

Whether or not that is sound theology, I don’t know.  We are promised trials in this life, so perhaps it is just being wise.

Then the trials came.  If you remember from my last post, we had quite the whirlwind of suffering at the end of 2013.  I almost wanted to leave here, but in my pain and grieving I heard the Still Small Voice of God reminding me that I am His, and I am where He wants me to be.

I felt like the enemy was attacking us and trying to steal our joy.  The joy of being new parents; the joy of establishing a home in Lesotho; the joy of building new friendships; the joy of serving the Lord.  But, God is SO much bigger than Satan.

God had mercy on us with those trials.  That may sound odd, but in so many ways it was a blessing they all came at once.  I feel like we were able to “get it over with,” much like ripping off a bandaid.  He carried us through those difficulties and redeemed our joy!  He redeemed what the enemy tried to steal!  What’s more is God has gifted us with the knowledge that joy does indeed come in the morning.  If we press into Him and trust Him, we will find joy!

My son and I have bad days.  We get frustrated with each other because the communication is lost sometimes.  But I know that in the morning when I go into his room he will be all smiles, giggles and coos, excited to see his mommy.

In the darkness of suffering I may feel God is distant, and I may get frustrated with our circumstances, and may feel like communication is lost. But I know that in the morning I am all smiles, giggles and coos, excited to see my Father; and He to see me!

I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit?  Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?  Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”  You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

~ Psalm 30

New Year, New Beginnings…

Here we are again!  

After being away from the blog for several months adjusting to our “new normal,” I would like to take this opportunity to recap the end of 2013, catch up on why we’ve been away… and start anew in the new year!  

Welcome 2014!

About 5-6 weeks after Matthias was born I developed an abscess and had to have it surgically removed.  It had been getting progressively worse, and we were on our way to Johannesburg to see my doctor for my 6 week follow up, and the pain got too bad and we stopped in Bloemfontein to see a doctor there.  He referred me for immediate surgery and we spent that night in the hospital, all three of us.  We came home the next day and for the next few weeks Bryan got his nursing practice in packing and bandaging my wound.

Photo on 2013-11-30 at 06.33 #4

         Recovering from Surgery
     (Saturday after Thanksgiving)

A few weeks into healing from that surgery I noticed another lump.  I went to the doctor and was put on antibiotics, but I had a feeling it had already formed an abscess.  I waited the weekend and on Monday tried to go to the doctors office (it was a holiday in South Africa) but luckily I had his on-call cell phone number. I told him my symptoms and he referred me for surgery again.  Incidentally, the same surgeon was on-call who’d done my last surgery.  This abscess was much bigger, and the surgery was much more painful than the last.  I’ll spare you the details of our hospital stay for this surgery, but we were there for three days (we got there on Monday afternoon and came home on Wednesday). So, more nursing practice for Bryan now having TWO wounds to pack and bandage. 

When we got home that Wednesday afternoon our house was in a shambles! Austin, our husky, had opened all the cabinets and pulled out and/or ate everything inside.  There was poop all over the house, and Austin was not well.  He had gotten into two 24oz bags of chocolate that were in one of the cabinets.  Bryan took him to the vet, who said he had tick-bite-fever – a very common culprit of animal illness here – but I know it was the chocolate that made him so ill.

Bryan and I nursed him all night long, and we thought he might be taking a turn for the better, so early the next morning we finally went to rest. Moments later we heard yelps of pain so we went out to be with him – then we watched him take his last breath.

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              Austin Xavier Eygabroad
              4/6/2003 – 12/19/2013
        Beloved Friend and Companion

Many emotions were running through both of us during this time.  All the stages of grief, I suppose; anger, sadness, denial… there was a moment I told Bryan I wanted to “go home.”  Almost immediately after saying it, in my mind I was reminded that I am home.  Then Bryan said to me, “where’s home?” Then I realized, home is where God calls me to be.  Home is where my husband and children are.  Home isn’t a place on the map… it’s a place in my heart.

I know these circumstances would not have been any easier to walk through in the states.  We have great friends here who were by our side the whole time, watching Austin while we were gone, helping us with our housework when we got back, bringing us meals, just being there as an ear to listen, praying with us and for us.  And we have great friends in the states who were praying for us as well.  God has provided for us in ways that we could never imagine, and I’m not sure how it would have been if we were in the states.

We’re starting this new year believing for a season of joy.  We have so much to be thankful for, and you are on that list!  Thank you for all your support! We could not do this without you!

We have a new normal, a new family, a new home – and for me, I have a new calling – to be a wife and a mom.  And that’s enough.

Merry Christmas 2013

               Merry Christmas 2013

Matthias Caleb 11/15/2013 One Month

       Matthias Caleb
        11/15/2013
         One Month

Matthias Caleb 12/15/2013 Two Months

      Matthias Caleb
        12/15/2013
        Two Months

Matthias Caleb 01/15/2013 Three Months

      Matthias Caleb
        01/15/2014
       Three Months

May God bless each and every one of you who call yourselves our friends!

South African Son – A Birth Story

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.

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It was the most beautiful experience of our lives.  Not quite the one we had “planned,” but we know that God had us where we were, and with whom we were with for good reason!  And that makes it beautiful!

We were able to build a beautiful new relationship with a wonderful family in Johannesburg while waiting for Matthias to arrive.  We were also able to relax and enjoy some downtime before bringing baby home!

October 14, 2013 I began having contractions at 3am.  So, that afternoon, we did what any couple should do when waiting for a birth – we baked a birthday cake! Well into the day, around 4pm the contractions were closer together and I was considered to be in active labor.  We headed to the Genesis Clinic around 6:30pm after a nice relaxing dinner. Everything was set up at the clinic for a natural child birth, all the laboring and delivery to be done in our nice comfortable room.

October 15th, 2013 around 1am we realized something was not right. Matthias was not engaging in the birth canal, he wasn’t moving down at all.  I labored for about 2 more hours and I knew he had not moved and the midwife checked again… still not engaged.  By this time I was exhausted and it was apparent Matthais would not be born vaginally.

The midwife called in the doctor for an emergency ceasarian section and within 20 minutes after making the call I was prepped and ready for surgery. When he was delivered, it was discovered Matthias had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck not just once, but three times!  That’s what was keeping him from being able to drop.

Well, after all that – a half a day of labor and c-section delivery – Matthias Caleb Eygabroad made his way into the world on October 15, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa at 4:07am weighing 7lbs 15oz and measuring 20.8 inches.

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We couldn’t be happier to have our healthy baby boy!  Here are some photos of the first few weeks of Matthias’ life.

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It Started With A Tree . . .

I want a tree on the wall in the baby’s room…

Believing I had no artistic ability whatsoever, I (Mari) started brainstorming how I could get a tree on the wall in the baby’s room.  I asked the ladies on the team if any of them could draw, no luck there.  One gal suggested contacting the art teacher at the school; another idea was to project a tree onto the wall and trace over it; but none of these sounded appealing to me, and actually sounded like more work…  So, I decided to try my hand at drawing a tree… I figured if it didn’t work out, I could just paint over it.

Finding a sketch of a tree online for reference, I started drawing on the wall – Thus beginning a journey of self discovery and artistic talent!  🙂

What follows is the progression of baby Matthias’ room – If you’d like a closer look at any of the pictures, you may right click and “open link in new tab/window” to see a bigger view.

I hope you enjoy! 

The beginning of a tree!

The beginning of a tree!

Seeing the tree looked a little lonely, I decided to try my hand at elephants!

Seeing the tree looked a little lonely, I decided to try my hand at elephants!

Since the elephants turned out so cute, why not take it a step further and try giraffes?!

Since the elephants turned out so cute, why not take it a step further and try giraffes?!

Baby Giraffe

Baby Giraffe

I needed something on the wall by the giraffe - how about our son's name?!

I needed something on the wall by the giraffe – how about our son’s name?!

The baby elephant has a mama, the baby giraffe needs a mama, too!

“The baby elephant has a mama, the baby giraffe needs a mama, too!”

Ok, I've procrastinated the tree leaves long enough, time to get started...

“Ok, I’ve procrastinated the tree leaves long enough, time to get started…”

"Oh, hey!  You know what the tree needs?!  Monkeys!"

“Oh, hey! You know what the tree needs?! Monkeys!”

But wait, the letters need to be painted!

“Oh, and the letters need to be painted!”

Ok, time to stop adding animals, and painting letters and get those leaves done!  :)

“Ok, time to stop adding animals, and painting letters and get those leaves done!”

Time to start painting!

Time to start painting!

Safari grass, blue sky and tree outline - I see some progress!

Safari grass, blue sky and tree outline – I see some progress!

Wow, the whole tree is painted!

Wow, the whole tree is painted!

The elephants look great in that safari grass!   Thanks to Barb, Carol, Kari and Melisa for the help painting!

The elephants look great in that safari grass!
Thanks to Barb, Carol, Kari and Melisa for the help painting!

The closets look great!   Thanks Kari and Carol!

The closets look great!
Thanks Kari and Carol!

Time to add the furniture!  Giraffe rug to add to the theme!

Time to add the furniture! Giraffe rug to add to the theme!

His bed looks great and he has the elephants for company!

His bed looks great and he has the elephants for company!

Mama's spot under the tree for bedtime stories and cuddles...

Mama’s spot under the tree for bedtime stories and cuddles…

A labor of love for this little guy - 35 Weeks 9/7/13

A labor of love for this little guy – 35 Weeks 9/7/13

As a side note, the curtains we put in his room were purchased by Bryan when he was in Lesotho on is first term as a single – who knew they would be perfect for his son’s room 4 years later?!

I hope you enjoyed this little photo progression of Matthias’ room!

Just a simple bicycle…

The MAF Lesotho team had the privilege of being involved in a fun bicycle ride around the new Maseru mall.  The relay race event was a corporate challenge; 5 riders and one bicycle, each rider taking his/her turn around the 2 km marked course.

For fun our relay team decided to wear pilot shirts with our bicycle shorts…yes, a bit goofy, but also a great way to represent MAF!

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The MAF Lesotho corporate bicycle relay team!

The fun ride had nearly 50 different Lesotho-based corporations and organisations represented in multiple categories:  youth, women’s, men’s and mixed.  The ride was also a promotion event for the Lesotho Sky, a grueling six-day MTB stage race held in the rugged mountains of Lesotho and drawing competitors from all around the world.  The Lesotho Sky, in its third year, begins September 22nd.

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But just because it was a ‘fun ride’ doesn’t mean there wasn’t a little competition, our hearts were beating fast as we awaited the marshal to start the race!

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Our first rider fighting for position right out of the gate. Let’s go Justin!

Justin set the pace for our first leg, coming in second behind the Lesotho tourism team.  Amidst the chaos of the crowd and multiple riders switching helmets and adjusting bicycles, we were able to send Thoahlane off for the second leg.

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Go Thoahlane Go!

Thoahlane was able to pass the Lesotho Tourism team and came across the line first!  The MAF Lesotho team was in first place…we could hardly believe it!  Amanda Honaker, Justin’s wife, was next on the track…

Amanda did a wonderful job maintaining our first place position, but the Lesotho Tourism team was chipping away at our lead.  It was a two-team battle for the fittest corporation in Lesotho!

Kevin, our program manager, extended our lead and the crowd was beginning to take notice of the MAF Lesotho team.  “Are they riding bicycles or flying airplanes?!”  The announcer stated incredulously.

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“I married this man, in all his ridiculousness!” – Mari

I was so proud of my team, who gave me such a large lead on the final leg, that I simply rode the track alone!  The MAF Lesotho team had won the corporate challenge!

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The coveted ‘homemade’ corporate challenge trophy!

Beyond the friendly competition, it was heart-warming to see the impact a simple bicycle can make in the lives of children in Africa.  Every bicycle that was given to the teams to race with was donated to the Lesotho Sky Trust and will be used to impact young kids in remote communities around Lesotho!

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Every bicycle ridden…

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donated to children in Lesotho!

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A simple bicycle can make a huge impact in a child’s life!

       Equally joyful was having the opportunity to represent MAF and share our mission to people who are not aware of our presence here!

Impacting lives, sharing MAF’s vision, AND having fun with a bicycle on a Friday afternoon…sign me up for next year’s event!