Monday, December 21, 2015

He Makes Beautiful Things

As I reflect back over the last couple of months and the crazy transition that we've undergone as we've relocated our family and our ministry, I am reminded of the Gungor song, "Beautiful Things." The yellow house we rented in the middle of the city was for sure a fixer-upper.  But today it's a beautiful home for me, my family, and the boys we care for....God has made a beautiful thing out of the dust.  The pictures below capture the restoration of a run down house into a beautiful home.  And we know that this transformation is just the beginning of what God has in store for our home.  Over the coming months and years, we hope and pray to see the lives of countless boys transformed by the love of God.  We hope and pray that He will continue to make beautiful things.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A New Home For Masana

At the end of September we received word that the house that has been home to Masana for almost 6 years is being sold to a local grocery store who will destroy it to build another shopping center.  We are devastated to say good bye to this home but know that God is with us in this season of transition.

In the past 6 weeks we have looked at numerous properties all over our city, signed a lease on one in the city-center, met with the bosses of the grocery store about details of our relocation, started renovations to the main house where my family will be living along with the 4 boys we care for, met with architects about plans for a building to serve the needs of our day center (classrooms, office, medical room), started packing boxes  All this while continue to run our day center at the old house.  Needless to say, its been an exhausting 6 weeks.

But when I think back over the past 6 weeks, I can see the hand of God in all of it.  It was Him who led us to this house in the center of the city...the perfect location for a project with street kids since they live in different parts of the city.  It was Him who gave us favor in meetings with the new landlord who has accepted to deduct some of the building costs from our rent.  It was Him who helped me connect to the owners of the grocery store so that I could get permission for us to stay in the current house until our Masana year ends on November 30.   It was Him who made it possible to get boxes and a truck donated for our moving day.  It was Him who brought together a great team of workers, including some who simply volunteered their service, to get all the repairs done on the house so that its ready for us to move in at the end of the month.  It was Him who has connected me to and architect in the city who is helping us find ways to build cheap but with good quality.  It was Him who has abundantly blessed us with the finances we need in this time of transition.

Even though we are physically tired at the end of each day, we rest well each night knowing that God is orchestrating our every move.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Almost a Home

The house we are building in Catembe is almost done!  It is a very typical Mozambican cinder-block house.  There is one bedroom, a living room and a bathroom.  The carpenter just has to mount the doors and windows and there is a little work to finish up in the bathroom.  So in a about a weeks time, this will be Nelson and Ginito's new home.  We have reached out to people living in the Maputo area asking for donations for the house - kitchen pots, plates, utensils, linens, bunk beds, dressers, sofas, etc.  Hopefully we'll receive a little to make the house feel like home for these boys.  If you happen to live in Maputo and would like to help, please send me an email at

Friday, September 4, 2015

Chico: Home Again!

In 2012, I posted about taking one of my favorites back to his family.  Chico.  His story of leaving the streets has been a tough one.  His mom's home is on the outskirts of the city and for the past 3 years, he's fought the allure of returning to the streets....often loosing the battle.  He's been back and forth from home and the streets more times than I can remember.  Each time he showed up at Masana, we'd try showing tough love in hopes that he'd quickly return home.  Some of his stints on the street were for weeks or months.  At one point, we only allowed him to come to our center 2 days a week in hopes that he'd return home.

Earlier this year, Chico went back home again.  And its seems as if his family have finally figured out how to help him.  His grandmother, who lives a good 30 or 40 minutes from the city, has taken him in.  Simply putting some distance between him and the city has done the trick.  This past week I visited him at his new home.  How he's grown-up over these past 3 years!  His grandmother's home seems filled with joy.  She genuinely loves Chico and wants to see him doing well.  Getting him into school in that area is going to be a challenge because of his age vs. grade level.  But we will see what options we can find for him.  For now, he's helping his grandmother with the farm and raising a few pigs.  So beautiful to see him finally living a normal Mozambican life!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Putting Down Roots - Part 2

"God makes homes for the homeless"
Psalm 68:8 (The Message Bible)

I shared in "Putting Down Roots - Part 1" that we have purchased land in Mozambique to build a home for our family.  We will not build our house for a couple of years though so we have felt God calling us to make a home for the homeless.  We have chosen 2 boys, Ginito and Nelson, who have both been on and off the streets since I first started working with Masana in 2009.  We have started the process of building a small house on the land where these 2 boys will live and have the opportunity to make a new life for themselves.

Ginito is 18 years old and Nelson is 19.  Neither of them are your typical street boy.  They are both so respectful and hard working.  Thankfully, God has protected them over the years from falling into the temptations of drugs and alcohol.  Ginito is very intelligent and eager to go back to school, which he will in January when the new school year begins.  Nelson is a worker. . . he doesn't do well sitting around and has, over the years, always arranged small jobs like selling bread or working in a shop.  He is now the newest employee at Armadura Gym, the gym that serves as an income generator for Masana.  

When we finally do build our home on our property, the boy's house will still exist and we've told them they are welcome as a part of our family until God gives them their own families.  Join us in praying for Ginito and Nelson as they enter into this new season of life.  Pray they will fully embrace the plans and purposes God has for them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Putting Down Roots - Part 1

As a family, we have always prayed about the need to put down roots here in Maputo.  Since before we married, Roberto has talked about wanting to buy land and build a home.  I’ve always been hesitant because I like living in the city.  But living in the city means renting which is not something we want to do for the rest of our lives.  So we’ve felt God directing us toward the option of buying land.  For me personally, it is as if He’s reminding me that Mozambique is my home.  He has called me here.  He’s given me family here.  Now He wants me to put down roots.  

After prayer, we decided that we would sacrifice our trip to the States this year and use the money we would have spent on plane tickets to buy land.  We have purchased a 40x50 meter plot in an area called Catembe, which is just across the Maputo Bay here in the city.  For now, its only possible to get there via ferry boat but a large suspension bridge has been started and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.  Once the bridge is completed, Catembe will be easily accessible and will, essentially, become a part of the city.  

We don't plan on living on our land until the bridge is completed as it costs about $20 to take your car across and back on the ferry.  So that gives us a couple of years to dream and plan for our future home.  But we aren't going to just sit on an empty plot for these next couple of years....stay tuned for "Putting Down Roots - Part 2"  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Zacarius: Still Suffering

Over the weekend, I received a phone call from some of the street boys telling me that Zacarius was really sick.  You may remember a post I wrote in March about Zacarius suffering an injury that required the use of a catheter for 3 months.  The doctor had instructed him to return to the hospital every 15 days to change the tube to his catheter.  Zacarius agreed to go back home where the conditions were more sanitary than on the streets and, for the first month, he did well with keeping to his biweekly doctors visit. 

But then Zacarius gave into the temptation to return to the streets…as so many boys do after they’ve tasted this life.  And he stopped going to the doctor to have his tube changed.  That brings us to this past weekend when the other street boys called me because Zacarius was really sick because of an infection. 

Roberto spent a few hours with Zacarius at the hospital on Tuesday where the doctor very painfully removed the infected tube and put in a new one.  The doctor has decided that he will need surgery to fix the problem in his urethra.  But there are only 2 urologists in Maputo, which means they are very busy and can only schedule Zacarius’ surgery for September. 

3 more months with a catheter.   

3 more months of fighting the temptation to return to the streets again. 

Please join us in praying for Zacarius.  Roberto’s heart broke in the hospital as Zacarius cried out in the midst of all the pain asking God what he had done to deserve this.  May he know God has not caused this suffering but that God desires to use it to draw him into a relationship with Him.  Pray for Zacarius to resist the temptation to return to the streets.  Pray for his relationship with his uncle and aunt, with whom he is living.  Pray for his healing. 

Zacarius and his brother were the first street kids I met when I moved to Mozambique.  They continue to have a special place in my heart.  I desperately want to see God transform their lives.  Despite the fact that, after 7 years, they are still on the streets, I know God has not given up on them.  So I won’t either.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Turning My Eyes to Jesus

This morning I woke up feeling nervous...butterflies in my stomach.  And the reason why is quite odd.  It's because, as of today, I have set aside Wednesday mornings to be alone.  From now on, I will leave Masana on Wednesday mornings.  No street boys.  I will leave Melina and Maya with our amazing nanny.  No daughters.  I will leave Roberto to carry on our work at Masana.  No husband.

It's just me.

And that makes me nervous.

It's been a long time since I've intentionally set aside time to be alone.  But its so necessary.  These past few weeks, I've felt like I'm drowning.  I've felt so overwhelmed trying to juggle being a wife and mother and caretaker to 30 boys.  I feel like Peter who stepped out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus.  But somewhere along the way, I, like Peter, took my eyes off of Jesus.  I started looking towards my family and my ministry.  And all of a sudden, I've found myself drowning.

So today I place my eyes back on Jesus.  I reach out my hand and take His.  I put my need for Jesus before my responsibilities with my family and my ministry.  Because I know that I need Jesus to be able to love my family as they deserve to be loved.  I need Jesus to be able to serve the boys of Masana as I long to serve them.  I need Jesus.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Who Cares?

Twice now since the beginning of this year, we’ve had street boys severely beaten.  And it’s as if that fact…that they are street boys…makes it no big deal.

The first boy was beaten in a local cemetery and left for dead.  We found him a day later and got him to the hospital.  He underwent 2 operations to drain the blood from his skull.  He survived but he’s not the same.  Because of the trauma he suffered, he now has mental deficiencies that will probably plague him for the rest of his life.  But who cares?  He’s just a street boy. 

Last week, another street boy was beaten…and this one didn’t make it.  His attackers beat him so severely that he succumbed to his injuries.  The left him to die in the woods where his body was later found by some other street boys.  Yes, the young boy was in the wrong as he was attempting to steal a car radio.  But since when does stealing warrant death?!?!  But who cares, right?  After all, he was just another street boy. 

But I care.

It’s not okay with me that the police do nothing because it’s “just a street boy.”  It’s not okay with me that others hear of these tragedies and think, “oh well it was just another street boy.”  They are more than “just street boys.”  They are sons.  They are brothers. They are uncles and cousins.  They are my friends.

I pray that God will continue to give me His heart for these boys.  My God doesn’t see “just another street boy.”  He knows them by name.  He knit them together in their mothers’ wombs.  They are so precious in His sight.  He has such incredible plans and purposes for their lives. 

And I know my God is not okay with their lives being snatched away from them.  He cares.  He cares deeply.

May all of my boys know these truths.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

7 Years Later

In January 2008, a little over a month after I moved to Mozambique, I met Gaspar and Zacarius who were living on the streets.  You can read their stories here or here or here or here or here or here.  In fact, the majority of my blog posts from 2009 involve them.  I've written lots about these brothers and their family over the past 6 years because they are a HUGE part of my story.  They are the reason I work with street kids today.

And sadly, they are still on the streets today. After their mom passed away in 2010, both brothers came back to the streets.  Zacarius goes to stay with an uncle from time to time but currently they are both here in the city.

Zacarius showed up at Masana yesterday after having been beaten with a rock by someone who wanted to steal his money.  He's in a lot of pain.  Ian took him to the hospital last night and he'll have some follow-up appointments this week.  Please join us in praying for his healing.  We often see God use times of sickness or injury to transform a boys wake them up to the reality of this life on the streets they have chosen and to remind them of home.  That's my prayer for Zacarius now...that God will transform his heart and stir up a longing for home.  Home for Zacarius is complicated since him mom passed away...but God knows the perfect home for him whether that be with dad, grandma, our one of his many aunts or uncles.  Pray that God will pick Zacarius up and place him in family.

God sets the lonely in family.  Psalm 68:6

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Sickbed Under the Mango Tree

The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.
Psalm 41:3

One of the unique aspects of Masana is that we are the only center for street kids in the city that has live-in staff.  That makes us the only place in the city for boys to go to when they are sick or injured, no matter what hour of the day it may be.  In the past 2 weeks, we've already had 2 boys stay with with a broken arm and one with malaria.  With temperatures in the 90's most days, the shade of the mango tree has become our sickbed.  

Today I took both the boy with malaria and my own daughter, Maya, to the clinic.  Maya got a round of vaccines while the young boy was tested for both malaria and HIV...the 2 standard tests done when someone is sick in this country.  He now rests outside under the mango tree while I sit in Maya's room watching her sleep, knowing that her tiny little body is not feeling good.  But what about the boy outside under the mango tree?  Where is his mom or aunt or grandmother....someone to watch over him as he on his sickbed?  

Perhaps the unique aspect of Masana being the only place in the city for street boys to go when they are sick or injured is also a call from God to stand in the place of their mothers or fathers or aunts or uncles.  

Someone should be watching over their sickbeds and praying. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Welcome Home!

Last Saturday, after 2 days of traveling, we arrived home to our beautiful family in Mozambique!  We were greeted at Masana by Roberto's family and our Masana family who had prepared a delicious meal to welcome us.  It was beautiful to watch Maria, Roberto's mom and Mama Julia as they sung and danced to welcome Maya to her new home.  

Throughout our travels last week, I was amazed at how God cares for us in the small details.  We were originally booked on a flight to South Africa via Amsterdam that would have been 20 hours of travel time.  But at the boarding gate, Delta moved us to the direct flight because the Amsterdam flight was overbooked.  The direct flight was only 14 hours!  God is in the details!

Roberto and I weren't allowed to sit together with 2 lap children because of the number of air masks on each row.  I was bummed about that but they managed to get us seats across the aisle from one another.  The flight was pretty full but no one else was seated on my row nor on Roberto's row!  I had an extra seat for Maya to sleep in and Roberto had 2 extra seats for Melina to stretch out across!!  Both of the girls slept almost all of the 14 hour journey!!!  God is in the details!

Now I'll admit that I was nervous about traveling with 2 babies under the age of 2.  I even bought a bottle of children's nighttime cough syrup just in case.  But didn't God prove Himself faithful?!?!

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ready To Go!

After almost 3 months in Georgia, we are all packed up and ready to return to Mozambique!!  Thank you to everyone who visited, met us for a meal, sent gifts for baby Maya, or opened their home to us.    We've felt very loved and return to Mozambique rested and ready for another year of ministry with Masana.

Please keep us in your prayers as we fly out tomorrow evening at 6pm.  We have a long journey with 2 babies.  But what awaits us on the other side of this trip is worth it....our home amongst the street boys of Maputo, Mozambique.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Goodbye

Last Sunday, I received a message from a colleague in Mozambique informing me that one of our sweet boys, Nilton, had passed away.  We were not told what illness he had but simply that he had been in the hospital and died there.  Such a common story in Mozambique.  

Nilton had left the streets in 2012 and was living with his grandmother and an aunt just outside of the capital city.  He passed by Masana often to visit us as he was always in the city playing soccer or basketball at one of the sports complexes.  He was one of those boys who, when he decided to leave the streets and return home, never looked back.  He had begun a new life and was thriving in his family.  

So as we begin 2015, I want to honor this young man and the amazing choices he made in getting his life back on track.  I pray that God will comfort his family in this time of grief...that He will turn their mourning into dancing.  And may this be a year when other boys follow in Nilton's footsteps and make the decision to leave the streets and return home for looking back.  May they thrive in the midst of their families just as Nilton did.  

You will be missed, Nilton.  Thank you for the joy that you brought to our lives.