Monday, September 18, 2017

intensity is my middle name


Just ten days after we arrived from spending a short summer in America we hosted a team from our church in the States….Times Square Church.  

It was such a beautiful time, and such an intense time!  WOW!  We experienced things with this team that we have never experienced before with teams in the past.  We even ended up going to a funeral for a street kid the day before they left.   They got to experience life here from all its angles.  They really got to get into what we do on a daily basis.  One team member even helped take a kid to the hospital who was in desperate need of stitches in his mouth.  Some kid had beat him up for the equivalent of 5 dollars.    

We held community outreaches at Mrs. Nyrenda’s house.   Mrs. Nyrenda allows us to use her yard to hold community outreaches for the neighborhood children.   We launched that effort while the team from TSC was here.   

We held an outreach directed at the girls on the streets.  The ladies from the team set up a wonderful manicure table and brought fun crafts for the girls to come and enjoy.  It was a pleasure to sit with these precious girls and allow them a few moments of peace to simply be teenage girls.  
We had loud fun dinners every night in our house.  Every night there were at least 18 people at our table enjoying company and food and laughter.  

All in all we laughed, we cried, we sang, we poured our hearts out to God with each other and we enjoyed being with family.  They left a beautiful piece of themselves here and we miss them so much.   I will let the photos speak for themselves.  


If you are interested in supporting the work of Streetwise you can go to tscnyc.org and make a donation.  Click on GIVE and follow the prompts to MORALES FAMILY / ZAMBIA.  




Sunday, September 10, 2017

mommy guilt and god's will

Ok, FINALLY, I have a few minutes to sit and write my thoughts about the last month of our life in Zambia.  So much has gone on in such a short period of time, so I am going to write a series of blogs.  This one is on a personal level.  Mommy guilt and the difficulty of God’s will and all that sorta fun stuff.  

We arrived home to Lusaka in the beginning of August and hit a big fat wall with the words WELCOME TO ZAMBIA THE REAL AFRICA written in bold letters across the face.  

This time around it was hard coming back to Zambia.  For the first time our girls are really beginning to understand what is there in America and what is here in Zambia.  Leaving family and friends is always hard, but this time it was particularly painful.   As a mother I wrestled a great deal with questions.

“Are we screwing our kids up irreversibly?”
“Will they ever forgive us for doing this to them!?”
“Are we being selfish by asking this sacrifice of them again?”
“OH GOD! I CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN!”

I remember on our last Sunday morning in church in NYC I was wrestling hard with God.  “LORD PLEASE MAKE IT CLEAR!   JESUS YOU HAVE TO SPEAK CLEARLY ABOUT MY GIRLS!  I CAN GO BACK TO ZAMBIA BUT ONLY IF I KNOW THAT MY GIRLS WILL BE OK!  LORD PLEASE!!!!!!!!!”  I felt like Jacob wrestling with the Angel.  Then God, in his amazing love, broke through the anxiety and the tears and brought such a calm and quiet to my heart.  

“Amira Hannah and Brooklyn are safe in the palm of my hands and you don’t have anything to worry about.  Keep moving forward and keep trusting me!"

It was like a clear soft voice that calmed the waves of storm in my momma heart.  It was what I needed to have the courage to get my girls on the plane two days later and fly back to Africa.  


God’s will chafes sometimes.  God’s will isn’t fluffy pink marshmallow clouds of spiritual bliss and happiness.  BUT GOD’S WILL IS THE SAFEST AND MOST SECURE PLACE YOU CAN BE!  God’s will is lonely sometimes, and God’s will stretches us is ways that we never thought.  (as in I am on the wrack of my own life and I can feel my bones cracking and my joints popping stretching, not a nice soft gently post work out stretch)  

The day we arrived in Zambia **THE DAY!** our dog was killed by the neighbors dog.  We had only been boots on the ground 6 hours!  I found myself holding our dog wrapped in a towel (he wasn’t dead at that point) screaming at God.  LORD DON’T LET THIS BE THE START!  GOD PLEASE!  WWWWWHHHHYYYYY!!!!!  MY GIRLS!  LORD MY GIRLS!!!!  (they loved that dog so much.  He was in our family for 4 years)  My husband took him to the vet and I went in the house, prayed with my tear filled babies and put them to bed.  

Louie died in the night.  When I woke the kids up in the morning to break the news to them I was FLOORED at the grace of God on them in that moment.  I was fully and completely expecting ranting and raving and angry tears and begging and pleading to go back to America.  But all three of them spoke of how God already told them that Louie was gone and that everything was going to be ok.  They were understandably sad, but WOW!  We talked about finding comfort in God when our hearts hurt and that God deserve the praise even when things go bad.  Nothing changes who God is.  

I see God at work in my kids right now in such beautiful ways.  I see them growing in the knowledge of Him and in the understanding of who God has made them to be.  Through the experience of Louie’s death they are beginning to understand the gentle merciful hand of God for themselves and learning to find comfort in God’s Word.  

I never wanna give the impression that because we are missionaries we have our stuff together.  BBBHHHWWWWWAAAAHHHAHHAAA!!    I wanted to share my recent experience as a missionary mamma mom who wrestles with God’s will and the fact that it ain+t pretty.  But I also wanna encourage you!  God hears your cries and he sees your heart!  Don’t be afraid!  Worship and let God take care of the rest!  I promise, he will see you through! 



Friday, July 28, 2017

the evaporating summer.

I can’t believe our time in the states is wrapping up so quickly!   Five weeks have flown by like grease lightning!   Someone yesterday referred to this summer as the “Evaporating Summer”.   Can anyone else testify!?     

This summer has been full of memories, rest and wonderful restful days at the lake.  

It has  been a wonderful break from the battle and getting our engines refueled for the fight again.  

It has been a time of contemplation and rest.   We even HAD TIME WITH OUT MY KIDS AND NO WORK RESPONSIBILITIES!  WHAT!?  When did that ever happen!?  We actually had 3.5 days WITH NOTHING TO DO!   It was amazing!    

I am writing this posting as a prayer request of sorts.    This summer has been a WONDERFUL time for my kids.  They have built memories and spent wonderful time with friends and family.  They even got to fly to NYC early to spend some quality time with my parents.  But now we have to get back on the plane and take them away from this.  Please pray for them!  Please pray for my parents.  Please pray for us!  It is hard on all our hearts to have to go through this trauma every 18 months to 2 years.  It bites actually.    Yet we know that God has called us to Zambia.  

The will of God is the safest place you can be in, but lets be honest, sometimes the will of God chafes and scratches and hurts.  Why!?  

Had a wonderful talk with our missions director yesterday about this.  This is the conclusion we came up with….Could it be that sometimes the purpose of the will of God is to bring us to the end of ourselves and force our dependency on God?    How else could we learn that God is faithful to his promises unless we are put in a position of having nothing else to rely on but the will of God?  How else would we learn that God is our friend that sticks closer than a brother when we are in lonely dry places and Jesus in the only one we can talk to?  How else!?  

We are excited to return to Zambia, don’t get me wrong.  God has answered many a prayer concerning the kids and the feeding program.    There has been much progress and movement made while we have been away which I will write more about that at a later time.  Besides that, it is our home.  We have been there for ten years.    We have built a life there that we love.   But it is the cry of every missionary that we know who wishes that we could all take what we love from the two worlds that we love so much and combine it into one awesome life.  

Please pray for us as we continue this journey.  Trust me when I tell you that we feel it when you guys are praying.  We couldn’t do what we do unless we had folks like you guys standing behind us praying and pushing us on.   We appreciate you all so much and love you more than words can express.   

If you would like to give to the work of Streetwise and the Morales family you can go to tscnyc.org, click on GIVE and follow the prompts to MORALES FAMILY / ZAMBIA. 


Monday, July 10, 2017

REJOICE always

It has been quit sometime since I have posted a blog!!   Months in fact.  Every time I have sat down to update you all and put pen to paper, so to speak, my thoughts blurr  and I become overwhelmed with trying to find the right words.

2017 up to this point has been a swirl of emotions, difficulties and one challenge after another that literally started New Years. CAN I GET A WITNESS!?!?   I KNOW I am not the only one.

It has been everything from one of our kids getting brutally sick to marriage bumps to people lying about us and our ministry to EVEN THE DOG GETTING SICK!!!  We even threw a surgery in there for good measure.   (My husband had to have retina surgery).  You name it…..

Why am I telling you this?   I don't know about you guys but I sometimes feel better knowing I'm not the only one.  “Ok so if you and you and you are also in the valley there might be something happening that is beyond me”.   Strength in numbers and all that.   I also feel like it keeps me from becoming self focused when I know that others are going through it right along side of me.   Empathy is a beautiful gift that God gives us that binds our hearts and brings unity.   We can help carry each others burdens with compassion and understanding.   Some thing I think can only be learned in the valley.   (Emphathise don't Victimize……I just came up with that myself LOL)

Another thing I have learned in the valley of 2017 is the absoluteness of Gods word.    I have been seriously walking with God since I was 18 years and have believed in the absolute truth of Gods word all that time.  But it has been this year that has taught me

 Philippians 4:4  REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE.  

 Philippians 4:13. I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH.

I could go on and on.   But I will make this point.    When Paul wrote the books of Philippians he was in a jail chained to a Roman soldier awaiting his trial and eventual execution.   He was suffering and probably in a great deal of pain physically.   He wasn't floating on fluffy pink marshmallow clouds of spiritual bliss.  

Heres a tub bit to mull over…… how else will we learn that God fights for us and causes us to stand in his victory unless we have been stripped bare and have no other choice but to rely on the goodness and mercy of God?  

God began to talk to me about Philippians 4:4 when i was at a low point this year.   Marriage had hit a rough patch, things in the ministry were at a stand still and nothing was going right.   Despair and bitterness where at war with what I know the reality of gods truth to be in my heart.  I felt like I was standing in the middle of two great and vast armies.     Paul said to REJOICE ALWAYS!    So I decided to do that.   I didn't feel it.   I didn't want to.   Circumstances didn't change instantly.   But as I began to rejoice in the lord and his goodness peace returned and an assurance came back

Some days it's a minute by minute uphill battle.   Some days it's mountain tops all the way.  Some days it's dark deep scary nothingness valleys.   But NOTHING AND I MEAN NOTHING CHANGES THE CHARACTER AND NATURE OF GOD!!!!!  THAT IS OUR HOPE.   THAT IS OUR ASSURANCE.   THAT IS FOCUS WHEN NOTHING ELSE MAKES SENSE.

Pastor Carter Conlon said it this way “who are you in Christ?   Stop sniveling and stand up!   God in in your side!!!”  

Be encouraged.   If you know Christ and are in the valley Jesus is with you!     You are not alone.  His promises are yes and amen.  If you don't know Christ and are in a deep dark place TURN TO JESUS!!!!!!!    You won't be sorry.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

God's Grace is Sufficient!

Raise your hand if you feel like you have lived 5 years in the past two months?!   2017 has been a doozie has it not!? 


So far this year our family has dealt with everything from malaria, to detached retinas, to folks trying to stop the outreaches at Streetwise.   Oh yeah, we even had to take our dog in for surgery because his jaw was broken.  
Personally and ministry…..it has been ROUGH!  

I have struggled and strained with trying to find the right words to let you know what is going on with Streetwise and the fact that we need your prayers.   How do I do this with out going into boring details?  we were hoping this was just an annoying bump in the road, but it has turned into a detour and we desperately need your prayers!

Basically, with out dragging it out.......we have had to put a hold on the feeding outreaches for a time.      Every Wednesday night for about 3 years running we have gone out on the streets with food for the boys and girls living homeless.   This event has been very very difficult, but also very good at the same time.   We have been able to take the time to be still, prayerful and considerate about the way forward.  We have many ideas in mind that I will share with you at the right time.   But for now, please pray with us!  

In order to begin the outreaches on the streets again we are needing to jump through some bureaucratic hoops.   Super unfun,  BUT we believe very strongly that we MUST be under the laws of the land and obey in order to be a strong testimony.   Please pray that we can move through this fairly quickly and smoothly and that we are wise as serpent and gentle as doves in our dealings.  (any of you who have spent time in Africa know what I mean!)

So what this means for the time is that we can't organize groups on the streets for outreach, but we are allowed to continue having them in our shop.   The purpose of the shop has always been to help us evaulate and determine the specific needs of the individual.  So, thank God, that continues.  As of now we have three students.   Chris and Fred come on Fridays.  If they continue and show consistency we will pursue more permanent options for them.  
signs that we make and sell at Streetwise Craft Co 
  

Fred.  Don't have a good photo of Chris yet.

Mailess is coming on Wednesdays with her little one.  She gets reading lessons and in return I give her soap.   Since she has had her baby she has moved back home, has started attending church and is really keen to make something of her life.  I see in her leadership and great potential.  If she remains consistent with the schedule we have set out for her we are considering getting sponsors to send her to school. She has a keen mind and a willing attitude.  I will write more about her later.  
Mailess having her reading lesson 
Luis holding Mailess's baby Moses   



We are continuing to work with Bruce and Mary in hopes that they will one day get their kids back. 

Mary and her baby Liza.  
Me and Mary's baby. 

So, as you can see there is much happening.  How can you pray for us?  
  1. Pray for the paper work we need to push through so that we can go back on the streets
  2. Pray for our team.   Pray for unity and compassion for the lost.  Pray that God increases our numbers so that we can reach more kids
 3. Pray for provision!  We need a bus, rent money for the shop and outreaches.   

 If you feel led to give you can to to tscnyc.org click on GIVE and follow the prompts to Morales Family/ Zambia.  Another way to give is to purchase one of our groovy groovy Streetwise Craft Co signs.  Go to our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/STREETWISECRAFTCO/ and check it out! 


Yesterday I was peaking.  I felt frustrated, tired and spent,  THEN!!! oh THEN!!!!!!  I opened my bible and what jumped out at me!?  The verse in the photo below!  So, I worshiped God and I thanked him for his abundant mercies and that HE KNOWS!  



Are you feeling overwhelmed and tired?  REMEMBER!!!!!  God's grace IS sufficient for you!  His Power is made PERFECT IN YOUR WEAKNESS!!!!  WOW!!!!!  God sees you!  God Knows You! If you don't know Jesus, what are you waiting for?  Life is to dang tough to go it alone!  Let the God who knows it all anyway help carry the burden!  

Add caption


 


Friday, February 24, 2017

More than a Conqueror

  


Did you realize that when you ask God to change you and to make you more like Jesus he takes you at your word?  Did you also realize that when you pray prayers like that its gonna get ugly REAL quick!!   I have seen aspects of myself that have scared and humbled me like I have never been before.   I have sat at my table where I have my quiet time with God and have literally felt the war for my soul.  Events have occurred that have exposed this nasty bitterness in my soul.  I have, with tear streaming down my face, pleaded with God to take it.  I could FEEL myself getting pulled into bitterness and I was scared because I don’t want to end up bitter and angry and full of pride.    I don’t know if ANYONE ELSE can relate to what I am writing now, but I want to just be real with you guys in hopes that someone out there gets encouraged, someone finds Hope in Jesus from reading these few words.  

“NO!  In all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him who loves us!  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any power, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”  Romans 8:37-39

I heard a message this morning called “Shake it Off”  (David Ham, tscnyc.org  LISTEN TO IT!)    Here’s what I took away from it……..Crudy stuff happens in life!  Paul the Apostle was going through all sorts of mess……arrest, imprisonment, beaten, chained to a boat, shipwrecked….THEN was bitten by a snake while he was trying to something nice for everyone by lighting a fire so folks wouldn’t be cold.  WHAT!?  But Paul simply shook the snake off his hand into the fire and went about his business.  The poison of the snake didn’t affect him.  He didn’t get sick or die.  He kept serving the folks and loving Jesus.  He didn’t allow the weight of his difficulties to diminish the light of Jesus in his heart.  He kept moving forward.  AAAAAAMMMMMMEEEEEENNNN!!!!!!   

Lets shake off the snakes that are trying to destroy us!  The weight of sin, the mistakes, the attacks of the enemy to get us off the course that God has set out for us.

Tomorrow my husband is going in for surgery.  He has a detached retina.  He is an artist and a crafts man,  He needs his eyes!  THAT’S A SNAKE BITE!    We have a choice to make though.  Do we wallow?  Do we sit down and die?  Or do we shake off the snake and keep moving forward!  God has provided miraculously for the surgery, and has provided so that I can be with him and he can recover from home.  He was going to have to travel alone and be gone from home for 2 weeks alone recovering.  The details that God has ordered in this have shown me that He is in control, that he wasn’t shocked or surprised that this issue has occurred.  AMEN!  No matter what happens we will worship Jesus because he is worthy and He deserved the praise! 

Let me leave you with this
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God!”  Romans 12: 1-2

I read the following portion of scripture the other day and it made me weep with joy!  If we endure and not turn back, if we run with patience this will be us one day!!!!

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, SALVATION BELONGS TO OUR GOD WHO SITS ON THE THRONE AND TO THE LAMB!”  Revelation 7:9-10

Its all about Jesus!  It will always be about Jesus!  AMEN!!!!!!!! 
If you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and savior, I PLEAD and IMPLORE with you!  Stop the fight!  Stop running here, there and everywhere looking for answers, because I promise you!  You won’t find them!  Jesus is the way!  Jesus in the truth!  Jesus is the life!  He died and cruel and painful death willingly and gladly so that he could welcome you and I into his kingdom.  He loves you!  And he is coming again soon! 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Samuel's journey

Goodness me, I can't believe its been so long since I have written an entry!  WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE!?  Well, much has happened and I’d like you to meet Samuel.  



We are SO PROUD and excited for Samuel.  Why you ask? 

WELL,  Samuel is about to graduate the program at the Teen Challenge Center here in Zambia.   WHOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!  Way to go Samuel!  

Let me back up a bit.  We met Samuel late 2015 on the outreaches.  He approached me excited and happy.  He told me that he had gone two weeks with out drinking or smoking.  He and I spoke at length about how great that is and about how he needed to get into a program to help him and that Jesus is the only way he can truly stay away from the booze.  We watched Samuel for a few more weeks to see how sincere he was.  ( sometimes the guys give us a story to make ends meet, so we have to proceed with wisdom when we decide who we are to intensely help)   What we saw was a young man who just wanted to be loved, accepted and normal.  He was willing to do anything for anyone and has a very gentle nature.   We saw that he was careful with the younger boys, he helped clean up and was very considerate to everyone.  So we brought him up to the Streetwise shop once a week so that we could monitor him closer and judge more clearly if he was truly ready to get off the streets.    (one thing we have learned is that you can’t just pull kids off the streets and with out a breath put them into a home situation……its to much culture shock for them)  Samuel was faithful, eager and willing.  He always showed up when he promised, he worked hard and has a keen teachable mind.  

So after about 3 months we began to talk to him about Teen Challenge.   Luis took him for a visit and the rest is, as they say…… history.    

Samuel’s story amazes me, at least the little bit that I know.  (we don’t ask to many details while we get to know the boys,  we have learned that as they trust us and as God begins to change their hearts they open up little by little and share what actually happened to them)    The day Samuel went to the center he was skinny, tired and ready for change.  He was tired of life and hungry for purpose and reason. 

While at Teen Challenge Samuel has met Jesus!  He has had a living encounter with the living Savior and is forever changed!  I SAW IT!  He came for a visit 4 months later and I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT!  The young man that we packed up and sent away WAS NOT the same person that sat in our living room four months later.  It is my greatest regret in my life that I don’t HAVE A STINKING PHOTO OF THAT DAY!!!!!!   So, use your imaginations………picture a street kid……skinny, dirty, malnourished, exhausted, world weary……baggy clothes and no purpose in his heart.   NOW!  Take that image and add 25 pounds, put some nice slacks and a button down shirt on him, and spray on some cologne for good measure.  He walked into my house full of confidence, life and meaning in his life.  I ugly cried you guys!  I FRIGGIN UGLY CRIED!  

I will be honest, some days the work that God has called us to with the street kids of Lusaka seems so very daunting.  It feels as if we take three steps forward and are knocked back 5.   We have to trust God for provision all the time in every way and some days I think  “I could go to the states, get a good job and write a check, this is crazy!”    BUT, oh man, BUT!!!!!!!!!!!   We would miss the extreme privilege of getting to be a part of Samuels transformation and salvation.  We would miss the joy of watching kids who are forgotten about, who think they are worthless, whose mothers tried to abort them,(the list goes on and on)…..we  would miss getting to watch Jesus coming in with His life changing power and light and give these babies meaning and purpose.  We get the extreme privilege or watching someones salvation experience!  

YOU GUYS, IF I HADN’T SEEN IT WITH MY OWN EYES I WOULDN’T HAVE BELIEVED IT!   

So, Samuel graduates in the end of February.  Would you pray for him?  His journey is far from over.  He now has the daunting task of learning to live a life off the streets as a productive member of society.  PRAY FOR HIM!  He wants to go to his family and rebuild his relationships with them.  PRAY!  Pray that Samuel doesn’t grow weary is well doing, PRAY that Samuel allows God to do all that needs to be done in his life.  PRAY that the lies of the culture and the pulls of society here don’t pull Samuel off the track that God has for his life.   PRAY!!!!!!!!  

We are looking and praying for the next candidate to go to the center.  Would you pray?   
How can you get involved? 

You can give at tscnyc.org   Click GIVING and follow the prompts to MORALES FAMILY / ZAMBIA or you can give to our paypal account  using the email streetwisezambia@gmail.com

You can help us spread the word about Streetwise.  We need folks to get on board to pray and help raise awareness of the need here.  

So, I ask again, how can you help?  Because everyone has a part to play.  

ROCK ON!!!!!