Wednesday, February 29, 2012

weak and foolish


God has put it on our hearts to go every week, once a week, and spend the morning with the kids praying and hearing their hearts.  So, for 6 weeks we have been doing that faithfully and will continue to do so until God tells us what to do next.  
In asking the kids what they want, I was honestly expecting things like new clothes, food, shoes, and all that....but honestly, they haven’t been asking for “things”, these kids want CHURCH!  They want a place that is theirs, a place where they can go and be accepted for who they are, where they are.  They WANT the word of God, not religion.  How will that play out?  Not a solitary clue...I have my ideas and they are good ones, but I want to wait until God makes it clear to go in that direction.  It would ROCK to have a store front church!  Don’t you think?  Please pray for God’s direction and wisdom!  My biggest fear is to get ahead of God and starting forcing ideas and plans onto the people when they don’t want them.  
Yesterday when I listened to Luis share God’s heart with the boys out of Psalm 139, I was blown away by the sense that we are on a ride that can’t be stopped.  We choose to step out in faith and obey God.  The rest is up to Him.  And it for DANG CERTAIN isn’t because Luis and I are so unique and special...we have not a single clue what we are doing.  
This was in my Bible reading for this morning 

“Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many     were influential, not many were of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.  God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, so that no one way boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.  Who has become for us wisdom, from God, that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” 
I Corinthians 1:26-30
It is a humbling thing to me when the Lord of all creation chooses to use us to further His kingdom.  It is by no means and easy or light thing.  Yet, “for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross”.  I want to daily pick up my cross, walk humbly before Jesus and watch what he does in the lives of people around me.  We serve an awesome and amazing God!  
p.s. Remember Joe?  He is the “leader” of the street kids.  PLEASE PRAY for him!  I know that God’s hand is on his life.  He respects Luis and listens to him.  When he gets saved he will be a force to reckon with, of that I am sure!  He hasn’t hit rock bottom yet though.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Are We Aware?


Had a pretty interesting conversation yesterday via facebook.  This person is a trusted friend who will slap me around if I need it, let me cry if I need it and is just a REALLY ROCKING AWESOME FRIEND!!  She doesn't let me wallow is self pity.  
I was unburdening my heart of my struggles as of late with loneliness and depression.  She told me that there are many at home struggling badly with that.  She told me that it seems that when she is at church she gets the sense that there are those who have smiles on their faces yet are hiding deep and serious pain.  
Why do we hold it in?  We don’t want to be whiners. We don’t want to walk in self pity. And we don’t want to burden those who may be having their own difficulties.  Those are good and noble reasons, yet what is the result?  We end up carrying pain that is burdensome and difficult.  We ask ourselves the question "Does anyone notice that I am dying on the vine here?"
I know that so often I get caught up in what I am going through at the moment that I forget there are people, and not just lost dying people with out Christ, who are in pain.  My brothers and my sisters are some pretty wounded people.  
Are we aware?  
I know that we are supposed to bring it all to Jesus and leave it at the foot of the cross.  That I believe with my entire being, because there are times when we rely to heavily on people and not on Jesus.  But at the same time we have been given the body of Christ for a reason!  
I don’t think we should be shouting our issues out to the world, yet I do believe in the beauty of a heart felt, transparent conversation with someone whom I love and I can trust with the deepest issues of my heart.  Someone who can be the hands and feet of Jesus when my burdens are heavy and I simply need a shoulder for a few moments.  
Folks, life is hard sometimes, we aren’t promised a bed of roses and a walk in the sunny park of life everyday.  If you are in need of someone to hold your arms up in the battle, pray and ask God to show you the right person you can talk to.  In addition to that, would you pray and ask God if you are to be that person for someone else?
Are we aware?

Monday, February 27, 2012

school bully BE GONE!


I was blown away to see how she handled it with such grace and dignity.  The day following me posting the blog, the little girl was forcing Amira’s friend to carry her stuff and the stuff from her little posse.  Amira promptly took the things from her friend and walked them over to the child.  She said “My friend doesn’t have to carry your things if she doesn’t want to!”  Very calm, yet very firm.   That very same morning Amira didn’t want to go to school.  She was faking a cough and telling me her tummy hurt.  So, while I wanted to protect my baby and keep her with me, we made her go to school with some pep talks, prayers and loads of love!  
Well, long story short, because Amira dealt with the situation so gracefully and lovingly, yet firmly it unnerved this little girl.  A few days went by and she asked Amira if she had told me and Luis everything she had been threatening her with.  Amira was very honest, yet didn’t feel the need to defend herself.  She simply stated her case and stood her ground.  Well, the following day the girl came up to Amira and APOLOGIZED for being so nasty and asked if they could be friends.  
I learned so much from my precious baby through this.  She faced her fear with boldness and bravery.  Yet she did it with such love and grace that it made my jaw drop and my heart flutter.  I don’t know if I would have been so gracious...in fact I know that in times past I haven’t been.  She was so quick to forgive!  She truly and completely forgave the girl.  I don’t know if she is willing to trust her friendship to her, and I don’t blame her, but Amira holds nothing over her!  



Friday, February 24, 2012

memoirs of a street ministry.....


(this is the text from our latest update)

Lusaka’s busy City Market Bus Terminal is what the
Port Authority is to New Yorkers. An insanely active hub, it also serves as a market and whatever else you need. 
It is a hive of activity, an organism pulsating with the push and pull of necessary daily African life. Blue buses honking and wheel barrow porters Ts-Tsing behind you so you can get out the way! Young boys selling fritters out of plastic buckets and African women selling dried fish are all part of the painting.
I often come back to Pastor Dave and his invaluable handbook on street outreach, The Cross and the Switchblade. I remember what he wrote regarding his pavement pounding in search of what it was God wanted him to do. He said they were not idle explorations, he was being led by God. In other words, it was purposeful. After a long hiatus from street ministry (our last outreach prior to our return last month was in May of 2011), we’re now back, and one thing is very crucial for our ministry to these kids: trust. They need to be able to trust us, and see that we are not just another do-gooder photo-op. We want these kids to know that we are  genuinely interested in their well-being.
Today I met Mumba, who claimed he was 12, but looked closer to ten years old. He had just arrived on the streets, and had the look of an old experienced man. His eyes had bags under them and he was very quiet and withdrawn. Myranda met two other boys who scrammed after she asked some questions. Maybe they thought she was a cop. 
We know that God has a plan for these kids lives, but we also know from experience that sometimes these kids don’t really want to get well, like the man at Bethesda. Street life is an addiction, and that is the thing that God needs to break in them. 
OFF THE STREETS
Randa and I are also being creative in our spare time. I’ve been doing graphic design and branding for the church we attend, www.southcitychurch.net, as well as stencil art. Myranda has also been experimenting in mixed media. I’ve become her mentor in the fine skill of spray can art (wasn’t raised in the church, remember?). We have had some good rest time and recuperation, and we thankful to TSC and our supporters for allowing us this opportunity to minister in this way. 
We are still praying for the most effective way to reach these boys and girls. We are seriously considering being able to have a trade school where carpentry and joinery can be taught, and where former street boys and girls could possibly market their skills. Some thoughts are a cafe, with a furniture / home store where furniture and artwork could be displayed and sold, to offset the cost of operation and feed the kids coming through the program. These are still drawing board ideas and dreams, but we are open to whatever it is God has in his heart. I believe that God will give us something challenging, but something we will enjoy and thrive in.
We would also like to develop a program that helps to meet their daily needs.  A store front church / feeding program / fill in the blank?  An outreach van?  
SUPPORT FOR THE
MORALES FAMILY
In short, life here is expensive. How can you help the Morales family?  Consider supporting us on a once in a while basis, or monthly. You can also send care packages to our address on the right.
We love hearing from you!!!!  Please drop us a line and keep us updated on what is going on in your lives!!!  
Prayer needs
1.
We would like a small compact camera to take on the streets so we can document what we see with out causing a scene. 
2.
Pray for our financial needs. Lusaka is an expensive place to live. 
3.
Pray for our families health and     unity.  
4.
Pray that God will show us how to move forward in practical ways with ministry. And that we don’t move to far to fast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday School Angst


(Before reading this understand something, I am NOT trying to give someone an excuse to back out of their commitments!  I don’t want ANYONE saying WELL, MYRANDA SAID..... that isn’t the point of the blog...k?)
Allow me to give you a bit of back ground to where I am going with this.   When we first came to Zambia I was put in charge of the Sunday school.  It was STRESSFUL to say the least.  I would have upwards of 45 kids in a tent ranging in ages 2 - 12.  Only my kids and the kids of the other missionary family spoke English.  On the other side of the very thin half wall of our tent there were a very rowdy bunch of street kids who kept trying to nick the cookies and juice brought for the Sunday School kids.  In the middle of this insanity Luis and I had to be on the constant watch for our kids as the church was surrounded by 3 bars and numerous drunk men.  I won’t lie to you when I tell you the entire experience almost drove me to the loony bin.
Now we are at a different church and like a ninny I volunteered to teach once a month.  I hadn’t recoupped properly from my previous stint.  
So yesterday it was my turn to teach the 5 - 8 year olds.  They are a good group of kids and the powers that be in charge of the planning are doing a fabulous job, the problem lies with me!  In the middle of the class while trying to keep everyone from climbing on top of the tables and running a muck everywhere I had an epiphany.....I REALLY REALLY DON’T LIKE DOING THIS!!!!  Does God want me to be in a ministry because I feel obligated or because I know that I know he has called me to it? 
My mom, wise woman that she is, has taught me a simple truth....ministry should NEVER be a burden.  Does it come with challenges and difficulties...YES!!!!  Do we run away when it become challenging and difficult....NO!!!!  Do we WANT to run away when it gets challenging and difficult?  Lets be honest here....WHO HASN’T!?  That is when remaining faithful and steadfast come into play.  BUT when it become burdensome and sucks the life out of you, maybe then it is time to re-think and pray about motives.  Get some counsel and take a step back.  
Allow me to illustrate.  God has called Luis and I to work with street kids in Zambia.    Street kid ministry MOST ASSUREDLY has it challenges and difficulties.  The devil is after us ALL the time to quit, yet when we are with the kids on wednesday mornings it is the most natural thing in the world we could be doing.  Every single time I am out on the streets I have the sense “It all makes sense right now!  Every battle, trial and difficulty makes perfect sense to me!”  
See where I am going with this? 
I was in such a foul mood yesterday, as I usually am on Sunday School day, that I had to spend a great deal of time humbling myself and saying sorry to those I took my crappy attitude out on.  THAT ISN’T COOL!  
This is what my face looked like most of the day.....  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

LEMME SEE THAT WAR FACE!!!


Our daughter Amira is dealing with a bully at school.  Amira is typically a soft spoken child in a public situation who likes to go with the flow and not cause any waves.  She wants to do what is expected of her, do it well and mind her business.  She gets a long well with her peers and is generally a good kid.
However, right now, she is learning that painful life lesson we have all had to learn, and are continuing to learn.  And that is this.....sometimes people are mean for no good reason.  How are we going to respond?  Do we lay down and take it or do we stand up for our selves?  I believe it is very godly to stand up for yourself (in a way that is God honoring of course).    
In praying about the situation Luis and I have felt very strongly that Amira needs to learn to stand up for herself.  The mother in me wants to march right up to her parents and tell them what is what, or to grab this little kid by the back of the arm and......well, you get the picture....but THANKFULLY the Lord keeps stopping me!
 We feel that it would do her self esteem WONDERS if she were to stand up to this child and say “ENOUGH!!!”  (throw a punch?)   God spoke very clearly that this is a life defining moment for her.  She NEEDS to look her fear in the eye and say ENOUGH!!!!!  She is intimidated and made to feel very badly about herself because of this little girl.  I believe that in doing this Amira will grow so much in her walk with Christ, this little girl will see Jesus in Amira and who knows...maybe they might end up as friends?  Amira is also going to learn that VERY valuable lesson that God is on her side and that He is fighting for her!  It has taken me YEARS to get that one into my think cranium.  

PUT ON YOUR WAR FACE AMIRA!!!!!!!


Would you please pray for Amira???????????

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I just figured out how to upload photos onto my blog, like the tech dork that I am.....Well, enjoy this photo of Brookie.  It was taken when we first moved to Zambia.  She is with her "fishy"  Some of you might remember "Fishy"

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rain, street kids and Jesus

Yesterday, being wednesday and all, dawned cloudy, rainy and cold.  Luis and I however were determined to go on the streets, as we have made the commitment to be out there every Wednesday morning.  Long story short, fast forward a few hours and picture and African bus terminal.  People everywhere, vendors selling mushrooms, fish and second hand clothing, Mothers with their babies, street kids coming out of the woodwork, old men, me and Luis.  There is a group of tables at the back of this cacophony where we decided to "set up shop".  We were about to end our time there when Luis gathered the children around him because he wanted to address them.  It was one of the most incredible moments I have witnessed here in zambia.  I sat at the back and watched roughly 30 street kids get QUIET and STILL and some of the surrounding vendors stopped what they were doing to listen.  Picture everything in mid-town manhattan going still for 3 minutes and you get the idea.  For only the briefest of moments Luis spoke to them about God's love and plan for their lives.  About how precious they are to Jesus and that is why they are precious to us.  He reminded them of his time spent on the streets before he knew Jesus and what god has done in his life since.  He prayed and that was it.  Life started to move around us again.  It was surreal to be sure and the Holiness of the moment was weighty.  

As we have begun to move forward in this call to work with the street kids the advice given to us by a woman from England was this..Listen to what they want.  Don't be quick to jump in with your good ideas and plans and money.  Take things slowly and prayerfully and be a good listener.  That came to us a year ago.  Interestingly enough Luis was talking with Joe last week.  He has lived on the streets for 11 years!!  He told Luis that he hates it when white people come with their projects and plans but don't stick around, or they don't build relationships and listen.  God help us!!  I feel it would be the highest form of arrogance on our part to assume that we know the kids and then force feed the gospel and our good ideas on them.  

We are praying for several things as we move forward. 
1. Does God want us to get a bus to ministry out of?
2. Does God want us to get a store front to ministry out of? 
3. We want a network of Zambian churches that we can send the kids to for church.   They come from ALL over Lusaka!!  Who are these churches?
4. When do we start a feeding program and what are the laws pertaining to it?  We need to build relationships with people in government who want to help.  
5. Pray for the health and safety of our family
6. Pray for the funds to do the work 
7. Pray about how god would have you get involved.  Is it financially?  Is it with your time?  How?  Do you send a package as a way to offer encouragement?  

We love you all so very very much!!!!  PLEASE keep in touch!  We love hearing from you!

Myranda, Luis Amira, Hannah, Brooklyn Rose, Homer and apache. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR!!!

A friend of mine was just recently informed that in order to catch a man she needs to ask God to show her what needs to change about herself!  Basically the idea was this "Something MUST be wrong with you or you would be married by now".  UMMMM............HONEY I DON'T THINK SO!!!!!!!!!!!  Double snap Z formation and all that good stuff! 

My friend is lovely, talented, godly, generous, humble and very very brave.  She is a good friend!

She called me frustrated because the same person also informed her that men want to be the leaders and that basically she needs to play the role of a helpless female.  HWUT!?  She said "Myranda, is it true!?"

PLEASE DON'T MISUNDERSTAND ME, I completely agree with the leadership part.  Luis is the leader in our home. I am called to respect and honor him!  It is biblical. (And if I may be candid, that has been very difficult for me to learn.) There is an order and a peace that comes into the life of a home when everyone's God ordained roles are respected and kept sacred. 

Something I have learned in 10 years of marriage is this...Growing as a woman, wife, mother means that I learn to give of myself, see to the needs of my family and support my husband unabashedly.  I am his biggest fan!  (And he is mine!)  In that I discover and am enhanced in who I am in Christ, walking in the fullness of who He has called me to be.  That might look different for different women...homeschool mom, career mom, single mom, single missionary,...the list is endless but I think you get the point.  I can never expect someone else to fit into the role God has called me to and visa-versa. 

I am a mother of 3 beautiful girls...Amira Janice', Hannah Lissette, and Brooklyn Rose.  It would be the greatest of disservices to them, I feel, if they learned from me that who they are as women doesn't matter, that they have no voice and no opinion.  If they feel they have to give up aspects of who God has made them to be to get a husband!   Our personalities are a gift from God!

I want my girls to grow strong in the knowledge of who God has made them, of how to reach out to those in need, to be generous.  I want them to live a life for Jesus that is bold, courageous and distinct to the honor of the One who paid such a high price for their precious little souls.  WHATEVER that looks like for them as individuals!!!! 

Ladies, lets walk BOLD in who we are in Christ!  No hiding or changing it, BUT KNOWING as we keep our eyes of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, He gives our life meaning and purpose, he gives and fullfils the longings of our hearts and makes all things beautiful in His time. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being a co-dependant missionary is hard work

I was sharing a difficult conversation that I had and something hit me between the eyes.  I am not responsible for others issues!!  I have always taken very close to heart when someone  I love is going through something difficult and carry it as if it were my issue!  But how often have I carried weights that weren't meant for me and I end up exhausted, burnt out and frustrated?   Not only do I suffer for it, my family suffers for it because I turn into a cranky you know what to  live with.  

 Luis shared with me about the ephod that the priests carried into the presence of God.  That garment represented all the burdens of all the people in all of Israel.  Thats a lot of ALL!  But when Jesus took the burden on himself and became our great high priest he took that away to carry it on his broad and very capable shoulders. It is not a burden that I wish to carry and am not meant to!   I know that it is talking about the burden of sin, but could it also be speaking to us co-dependants?  Don't we take on cares and worries that aren't ours to take?  We don't have good boundaries and we get walked all over all the time!  That doesn't sound like a life of freedom and promise that Jesus won for me on the cross does it?  

When there is tension is a relationship I am involved in it is my responsibility to go to them and try to clear the air, scripture is very clear on my responsibilities there.  But where I have always gone wrong is that I feel I am myself responsible for their response.  WRONG!  How often have i avoided issues in order to "keep peace"?  Isnt it true that peace sometimes comes with a sword?  Lance boils and cut of dead crappy junk?  

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts

Monday, February 6, 2012

When Helping Hurts


When it rains it pours on a Sunday here in Lusaka, and I aint just talking a bout RAIN, you know what I mean!!!??  It was back to back excitement all around for the Morales family yesterday.  Luis and I crashed in bed EXHAUSTED at the end of the day and wondering “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?”  Ever had a day like that?  
Here in Zambia it is totally cool to just drop by on someone unannounced for a visit.  It is a sign of friendship and true respect.   We always love the visitors and it is fun to host people.  However WHY do they have to come on a sunday after noon when the house looks its worst and all that could be going wrong is going on at that moment?  Ever had a day like that?  
We also learned a BIG lesson yesterday.  You get burnt in ministry!  We helped an ex street boy find a place to stay and he ended up stealing a bike and money from the gentleman who opened up his home to him.  UGH!  He had all of us going about his story and all of us, included the zambian gentleman who helped him believed him!   (There is a common understanding that a zambian knows when a zambian is lying, but it is harder for everyone else to see it.)  Luis even believed him, and he is usually the more skeptical one, being that he grew up on the streets and he knows how these kids are thinking.  Ok, so what do we do?  Do we become cynical and jaded?  Or do we ask God to teach us from this and show us how to avoid it in the future?  We are not responsible for other people’s choices.  We are responsible to show them the love of Jesus and to listen to God’s direction when we reach out to them.  What they choose to do with the love and generosity being shown is between them and God.  I want to be able to say at the end of it all “I did the best I knew to do with a pure heart to honor my Savior”.  
Yet, I don’t want my helping to hurt those I am reaching out to!  GOD GIVE US WISDOM AND EARS TO HEAR YOU!!!!