Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Year Later...Our Home


In 2016, we had the tiresome task of relocating and rebuilding Masana, our center for street boys. December 1 of 2015, we moved onto a property with a beautiful house for our family and the boys we care for. . . and nothing for our day center.  So we built.  It was not an easy process as we fought for documents and licenses that took months and months to obtain.  But God was faithful and today we have a beautiful house with the perfect set-up for Masana:  a kitchen, a shade with picnic tables, 3 classrooms, a medical room, an office, bathrooms, and a bedroom for temporary housing.  

You see, in the end, our new center is more than we imagined.  We thank God that His ways are higher than ours. Because of the difficulties we had with builders, we ended up with an extra classroom and a bedroom.  The classroom we didn't plan for will accommodate our class for boys who need extra one-on-one instruction....had it not been for the difficulties, these boys would be studying at the picnic tables surrounded by distractions as people enter and exit the center.  Now they have their own classroom.  The bedroom we didn't plan for will house 2 boys entering into a new transitional phase called Exodus that will hopefully be their exit from the street life.

When we found ourselves most frustrated with the process of building, God had greater plans in store.  The new Masana is a testimony to that.








                              

                                       


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Exodus


Exodus.  The story of Moses leading the oppressed Israelites out of captivity...out of slavery.  Its a story of God rescuing His people and bringing freedom to His chosen ones.  Its a story of a new beginning.

In January, Masana will begin our own version of Exodus.  We have chosen two boys who will enter into this 1-year transitional program.  

Two boys who will be rescued from the streets.  

Two boys who will be given the opportunity of a new beginning.  

Over the years of working with street boys, we have come to realize that returning home to mom or dad isn't always the best solution for all of these boys.  They reach an age where it is no longer a healthy option for them to just sit at home and be another mouth to feed.  Perhaps it has to do with how God created men with a desire to work and provide.  So, as much as we root for these boys to return to their families, we realize that isn't going to happen with all of them.  Exodus will be our attempt to help a few of the boys that fit this description.

Though the end goal is not necessarily to see these boys return to their families, we continue to believe that ties with their family are important and must be strengthened.  So the first component of Exodus will be on family.  The boys will live with us here at Masana....as part of our family.  They will have responsibilities around the house.  They will have rules.  And, most importantly, they will have someone to encourage them in their walk with God.  The boys will spend weekends with their actual families...a night or 2 a week to strengthen those relationships because we know that the day will come when they realize the need their families.

The second component of Exodus will be education.  The boys will participate in a literacy course at a local school.  We know that not all of the Masana boys will thrive in school but we believe its necessary to know how to read and write.  We'll provide them with a tutor who will work with them daily to help them reach this goal.  

The final component of Exodus will be vocational training.  Each of the boys will choose a vocational course that interests him...electricity, plumbing, masonry...there are many options.  Masana will pay for them to complete the course and purchase the basic materials they need.  After they complete their courses, we will help them arrange an internship.  The hope is that, by the end of the year, they will have enough knowledge and experience to begin working and earning an income that will enable them to rent a house and purchase their basic necessities.

Join us in praying for these 2 young men...that they truly will have an Exodus from the street life.



Saturday, October 29, 2016

A New Challenge



Since moving to Mozambique in 2007, I have seen too many lives lost because of AIDS.  According to the World Health Organization, "HIV/AIDS is a major public health concern in Mozambique.  With a prevalence of 11.5% among adults between 15-49 years, Mozambique is facing a generalized epidemic.  This means that the virus is spread among the general population and is not exclusive to specific risk groups."

In the past 6 months, here at Masana, we have had 4 boys test HIV+.  On average, we have about 25 street boys at our center each day.  That means that this year, 16% of them have tested positive.

These numbers shock me.
And break my heart.

How does Masana respond to this new epidemic facing street boys?  What is God calling us to do to help these boys whose lives are forever changed by a positive test?  What has changed among the street culture over the past years that cause us to see such high HIV/AIDS rates today?  How do we help prevent more boys from becoming infected?

These are the questions that have dominated my prayers these last days and weeks.

Masana recently received a PEPFAR grant (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) from the US government.  These funds are to be used specifically to help in the area of HIV/AIDS among street children.  Next week, we will be meeting with a leader of Doctors Without Boarders, an international organization that works in the area of healthcare in Mozambique, to discuss a partnership as we tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS among street boys.

I know that God is orchestrating all of this and that He is going to use Masana to transform the lives of these boys who might otherwise lose all hope.  I am grateful for that.  I am grateful that He provides finances and partnerships to help us meet the needs of these boys.  But I am even more grateful that God has called Masana to be a part of this battle....to bring Hope to the hopeless.




Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Family Restored


Three years ago, I sat in the yard pictured above with a very sad little Luis as we listened to his father speak horrible things about him.  He went on and on about how this boy no longer exists as far as he is concerned.  I fought back tears as we listened to him.

Today, 3 years later, this same father came to my home...he sought us out.  And he spoke very differently about his son.  Today, he shared how both he and other family members see a difference in Luis.  He declared that Luis is his family and will always have a place in their home.   And he recognized that this change is because of the investment Masana has made in Luis' life.

He will turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers.  Malachi 4:6

Another family has been restored.  We thank God for allowing us to be a part of this restoration work.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

An Honest Living

The traffic lights around our city often have little boys begging.  They wait for the light to turn red so that they can place one hand on their stomach and stick out their other hand to the driver of the car that has stopped.  Too often, the drivers of these cars believe the lie of hunger and give the little boys money that will later be spent on candy or a radio or, unfortunately, drugs and alcohol.  A life of begging to have a little money in the pocket.

Older boys walk around the city looking for a car that is parked in a way that would make it easy to steal parts without drawing attention...mirrors, headlights, grills.  If it can be easily pooped off of your car, it's fare game.  Then its off to the black market to sale their stolen goods.  A life of crime to have a little money in the pocket.

At Masana, we work with boys to get them ready to leave behind street life and return to their families.  Once home, the boys often miss the feeling of having money in their pocket...the money that was made easily, though dishonestly, on the streets.  In recent years we've begun to realize that we have to provide these boys with means of making an honest living to prevent them from returning to the streets to make money.

Our first go at this was Armadura Gym which opened in 2013.  The gym serves as income generator for Masana and provides jobs for boys who have made the choice to leave the streets and return home.  There are currently 5 boys participating in an internship that has gotten them off the streets and into a home and full time employment.

This year we were given some funds for vocational training courses.  We have chosen some boys who have already left the streets and returned to their families.  Each one has chosen a course that interested him.  We now have 2 certified electricians, 1 certified videographer and 1 certified seamster who are all completing internships!  We've just begun a second round of vocational courses in which 3 boys are taking an electrician course and one is taking an auto mechanics course.

In a world where it is so easy to beg and steal, we are so proud of these boys who are making steps towards an honest living!

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; Establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Not My Story to Tell


This is Luis.  He has lived on the streets of Maputo for too many years.  I've started to type his story 4 or 5 times but keep hitting delete...it's just not my story to tell.   Luis' story is one of suffering.  He's endured far more than any 16 year old should have endured.  But when I look at photos of him with Melina and Maya, all I see is joy.

He's had a hard life but he hasn't been hardened by it.


Luis is finally close to leaving the streets behind.  Because of some health issues, he's been living with us here at Masana for the past 6 or 7 weeks.  At first we were searching for alternatives for him in terms of where he could live...a children's center or perhaps the home Roberto and I have built for some other former street boys, or maybe with an extended family member or a foster family.  But in the end, we have decided the best place for him is with his mother, step-father and 2 small sisters.  He's spent weekends with them for the past month and now is there for a week.  If all goes well with this visit, we think he'll be ready to return home for good.

Would you pray for Luis?  Pray for him as he makes this transition from the streets back to his family.  Pray that he would stay this time...that he would never again return to the streets.  Pray for his health.  Pray that his family will be able to give him the care he needs.  Pray that he will know that he is loved....not only by his actual family but by his family here at Masana and, most importantly, by his Father in heaven.  He is loved.


God sets the lonely in family.
Psalm 68:6

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Always Give Yourselves Fully



I've found myself disheartened lately....tired of pouring myself out for boys who don't seem to want our help.

In June, a boy who lived with us for almost a month was set to return to his family who lives about 6 hours north of the city.  The night before we were to leave, he stole money from our house and disappeared.  To this day, we don't know where he is.

A young boy who is very sick has been living with us for 2 months now.  Last week he left for his daily trip to the health center for medication and never came back.  Roberto and I spent 2 days searching for him before we found him and brought him back to Masana.  When we questioned him about why he'd run away, all we got were blank stares.

Another young man was staying with us for the past 2 weeks because he'd been hit by a car.  He decided he didn't want to stay in the hospital after his accident so he paid a taxi to drop him off outside of Masana.  When we returned from church 2 Sunday's ago, there he was on the sidewalk outside of our home with a cast on both his arm and his leg.  Roberto and the boys who live here with us had to carry this young man around for 2 weeks...to the bathroom, to his bedroom, to the living room.  He was completely dependent on us.  After a few talks, he agreed to go to his grandmothers house which is 3 hours north of the city.  The night before we were to take him home, he disappeared.

You see how easy it is to feel disheartened?  We give so much of ourselves.  Roberto has spent countless hours at the hospital with these boys.  We've opened our home to them.  We've given them clothes and food.  Yet it seems to be in vain.  They run away despite all we've done for them.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  1 Corinthians 15:58

This morning I skipped church and stayed home alone.  I needed time to process through these disappointments.  And this is the verse God has put on my heart.

Stand firm.

Let nothing move you.

ALWAYS give yourselves fully.

Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

ALWAYS give yourselves fully.  ALWAYS....that's the calling Roberto and I have accepted as we pour ourselves out day after day here at Masana.  Even when we find ourselves disappointed by the boys, we will choose to ALWAYS give ourselves fully.  And we will believe that our labor is not in vain.  We will believe that the Lord is planting seeds in the hearts of these boys...even the ones who run away from us.  And despite the disappointments, we will thank God that He uses us to pour out His love on these boys.  We will stand firm.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Journey of Masana

Please take a minute to watch this video that beautifully captures the ministry of Masana:

video

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Hope in the Suffering

Life on the streets is full of suffering.  These last few months, we have seen an increased number of boys showing up at our house all hours of the day or night in need of medical attention.  We had little Antonio who was hit by a car and couldn't walk.  There was Marcilino who was hit by a car and broke his arm.  We also had one other boy that was hit by a car and left with a severe sprain.  We've had 4 or 5 boys with urinary tract infections because of drinking contaminated water.  Alex was beaten over the head with a rock and needed stitches.  Antonio was beaten so badly in his face that his eyes were swollen shut for a week and he still doesn't have full vision back.  Another Antonio had a piece of iron go through his foot and developed a horrible infection.  Alfredo was badly burned on his leg when someone threw gas on the fire they were cooking on.  2 boys have tested HIV+.  

Most of these health issues are things that would never happen if the boys were living at home with their families and not on the streets.  Boys who run around the streets begging at stop lights, sometimes get hit by cars.  Boys who steal for a living get beaten up when they are caught.  Boys who dig through trash dumpsters without proper shoes, get injured by sharp objects.  Boys who live in an abandoned church with no running water, develop infections from contaminated water.  And maybe one of the harshest realities of street life:  boys who don't practice safe sex in a city where 12% of the population is HIV+, test positive.  

But God has placed Masana in the middle of this city to serve as a safe haven for these boys.  When no one else seems to care about them...we care.  When they ring the door bell at 2 o'clock in the morning, we will crawl out of bed to help them.  We will spend hours in hospital waiting rooms making sure they get the medical care they need.  We'll walk to the local pharmacy as often as needed to buy medicine for them.  And through all of the suffering that the boys endure, we will not stop praying that God use it to transform their lives....that this illness or this injury will finally be the tipping point that sends these boys back to their families.  We will find hope in the suffering.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2 brothers and a Neighbor



This past week, a group of 3 new boys showed up at Masana.  One of them, Antonio, had been hit by a car over the weekend and could barely walk.  Abigail, our on-call doctor, checked him out and assured us the leg wasn't broken.  We took him to the hospital where they confirmed that it was just a bad sprain and wrapped up his entire leg so that he couldn't bend it.  He has been staying with us here at Masana ever since as we await his follow-up appointment on Monday.

Antonio, his brother, Armando, and a neighbor named Abilo all came to the city together about 2 weeks ago.  They came to try and find an uncle but weren't able to locate his house so they ended up on the street instead.  Their families are about 3 hours north of Maputo in a beach town called Xai-Xai.  Antonio is the oldest of the group with 11 years.  The other 2 are probably 9 or 10.

I wish I could say that Antonio, after suffering a car accident, is ready to go back home....but he's not.  None of them are.  Sadly, they are loving life on the street and how easily they make money begging. Numerous times, Armando and Abilo have come to Masana to drop off Fizz (a cheap soda) and cookies for their brother with the hurt leg.  They are living it up...carefree, no one to make them do anything.



It has been raining a lot for the past few hours and I find myself praying that this group of boys would realize that its not all fun and games here on the streets of Maputo.  I'm praying that they will feel the cold today as they walk the city in their wet clothes.  I'm praying that they will feel hunger pains as Masana is closed for the weekend.  I'm praying God will move in their hearts and their minds.  I'm praying for a desire to return home.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Waiting For A Stamp


Our season of transition here at Masana is still just that....transition.  We should have reopened the doors of our center on January 25 ending our season of transition and starting our season of new beginnings.  But instead, we are doing nothing as we wait on a stamp from the government to continue building our classrooms and kitchen.  Our building was suspended 3 weeks ago because the necessary building permits were not ready.  All of our documents and building designs have been submitted.  Our architect goes to the government office every day to check on them.  He's told to be patient....our process is in the office of the 2nd floor and still has to make it up to the 3rd floor office for the boss to give his stamp of approval.  And so we wait....and the 30 something street boys who are waiting with us pop in from time to time to see if there is any news.

Will you pray with us for these documents to receive the necessary stamp so that our building can resume and our center can reopen once again.  Pray that when those 30 something boys come knocking again, we'll have good news for them!