Open

I’m sitting here wondering what to write next.  How can I wrap up my time in Morocco in a clean concise way?  The experiences shared, I hope speak for themselves.  The children I met remain in my thoughts and heart.  They always have.  They always will.  But there are so many more, not just in Morocco, but here in Spain, as well as Asia, as well as South America, as well as the United States.  All around the world, children can be found living in the streets.  And yet, I can’t be everywhere.  I can’t take food and a futbol traveling around.  Would I?  Yes, if that’s what I believe I was to do.  But honestly, though GOD used my simple offerings for such good, I know more needs to be done.  And I refuse to sit back and do nothing.  For HE has my all.

Teams of people are needed to unite against such injustice of innocence.   I’m not going to tell you that I have definite and finite plans of how all this looks.  I can’t tell you that I know what all the next steps are.  But I do know that GOD has asked me to be OPEN, open to the many ways this could look.  And it is through this openness that I have the excitement and peace to share what I do know…

I’m here.

I’m here to reach out to the street children in Spain.  I’m here to reach out to the street children in Morocco.  I’m here to raise up and train leaders to go.  I’m here to learn what these children need, to give all that I have, to trust in GOD who has placed the precious hearts, faces, and identities of such children on my heart, knowing that I won’t stop, that I won’t stop fighting for these children, loving these children, teaching these children, and growing a family who understands more and more what love is.

Is it a big task?  No.  It’s an amazing life!

Check out Heritage.Now to see how you can be involved.

The Unexpected.

(Continuation of “I’m a Follower”)

There I stood, watching the boys disappear into the winding streets of the medina.  As I observed the situation, I saw all the men around and questioned why I was led to stay.  What was I to do there?  And then I saw the futbol.  There was a group of men playing futbol, yet the futbol was torn to shreds.  It was falling a part and almost seemed as if it was a rag they were playing with.  And then I knew what the next step was.

I took a deep breath and walked into the middle of the crowd.  I got their attention and pulled my futbol from my pink beach bag and offered it to them to use.  They eagerly accepted it and I sat down and watched.  There I was talking and laughing with these men.  A few moments later from across the plaza I saw one of the street boys that I met early that morning.  He saw me, smiled and waved.  And that sense of familiarity warmed my heart.  He sat down next to me, with some huffing drug in hand, and we watched the game together.  The men then called him out to play.  And with that invitation, he threw his drug to the ground and began to play.  He was distracted with futbol and all I could do was smile.


After the game, several of the men approached me, thanking me for the use of the futbol and we continued to talk.  A few moments later, two men came up to me with their disrespectful comments and kissing sounds and the men in the group instantly came in my defense pushing them away.  Our conversations continued as best as they could until a fight broke out between two men.  I began to gather my stuff in order to leave quickly, when I was reassured that everything was okay by three men who moved in between me and the fight.

I felt protected and accepted in a way.  I know it was just a moment, but it was a moment of relationship building that I appreciated and cherished.  It all starts somewhere… 

I’m A Follower.

The word I received before making my way to Morocco was to follow the Spirit for your time there is going to look different than you expect.


I listened to that word knowing that it was Spirit that was guiding me back and the Spirit would be leading me.  You see, I had no real itinerary.  I wasn’t meeting up with anyone at any certain time.  I was just there with food and a futbol in hand.  And so I followed…

At first, I found myself near the port area.  I sat there for about an hour observing and saw no children or anyone really who was in need of food or anything.  So I figured I wouldn’t waste any more time and decided to move to another location.  But as I got up, I felt the inkling to stay.  So I listened, grabbed my journal and started sketching a nearby building.  A few moments later I was approached by 2 street boys who sat next to me.  We had a conversation filled with simple questions and a lot of charades.  I offered them food and they said no, but continued to sit next to me watching me draw and talking with me.  About an hour later or so 2 other younger boys joined us.  They eagerly took some food.  And we talked and laughed, some in Arabic, a little English, and some Spanish.  It continued for a while until a man called out to the four of them, pointed in different directions, and sent them on their way.

So I grabbed my things and made my way through the medina.  When I reached the fountain area I again felt the Spirit leading me to stay.  So I found a bench, pulled out a book, and kept my futbol and food visible.  After about 10 minutes, a group of 5 street boys and their dogs approached me to ask if they could play futbol.  So we spent the next hour or so kicking it around, laughing, and chasing the ball as the dogs tried to play too.  We were such a sight.  Some of the older people resting on the benches were even laughing at us.  Afterwards, I gave them some food and they too went on their way.

A few minutes later, I was led to another park where again, a few of the boys wanted to show off their futbol skills and so I spent some time with them and shared my food.

My pink beach bag was continually getting lighter as it now only held my futbol and a few remaining pieces of fruit.  With the lighter weight to carry, I was led to walk along the beach front to check out the scene there.  But as I continued to walk, something in my spirit was beginning to feel uneasy.  More men were around me, the disrespectful comments and kissing sounds were more frequent and seemed louder and I knew I needed to turn around and walk back.  As I turned, I saw them.  There they were, about 10 street boys making their way back to the port area.  I was interested to see where they were headed and so decided to keep my distance, but follow them. 

As I reached the port area, I found myself, once again surrounded by men as the street boys made their way up through the medina.  I wanted to go with them, but the Spirit said stay and so there I was with another choice to make…

 

Who Is Waiting…

This question is one that I continue to ponder.  

Who is waiting on you to rise up and serve, to love with the guidance and fullness of GOD and the Spirit?…



I went out that first evening in Morocco.  After spending some time in the port area, I made my way through the medina.  It was here where I saw him.  He is a boy that I met about 11 months ago when I was last there.  He looked different, but I still recognized him.  As I approached him, I called out his name.  With the strength he had he slowly raised his head and looked my direction.  And then his head fell back against the wall he had propped himself against.  

And there he was.  A boy that used to be full of life, hope, and just so much energy, was now (eleven months later) needing a wall to hold him up as he fades in and out of consciousness.  I tried to ask him anything I could think of with my mixture of english, spanish, and arabic, and he spoke a few words.  He had no smile, no warmth, just the cold reality that drugs are now a part of his life.  I helped him sit down so he could rest.  He closed his eyes.  And As I knelt down, keeping enough distance to maintain boundaries, but close enough so that he knew I was there, I said a silent prayer, left him some food, and fought off the tears reflecting my heart that broke for him.

I went to my room that night with the reality that each night that these children spend in the streets, strips more and more of their life, their joy, their hope away.  And the tears came.  Eleven months later I came back.  Eleven months past.  And I wonder as each day goes by, who is waiting for me.  I wonder who is waiting for someone to reach out to them.

I will remember him and in those moments that I hesitate out of fear or just plain laziness and selfishness, or say…”later”, the question to be asked is, “who is waiting?”

The time is now…

Armor.

Let me begin this month of stories from my time in Morocco with a little explanation of my preparation.  You see, when I decided it was time to visit again, to serve the street children in some way, one of the main concerns was my safety.  We made sure I found a safe place to stay, that people had all my contact information, and that they knew when I was leaving and returning, as well as a tentative schedule and plan of my time there.

As I prepared to leave, I was reminded of the importance of arming myself.  And as a single woman, traveling alone, working in the streets of Tangier, I needed armor.

But I didn’t go with a heavy shield.  I didn’t go with a defensive weapon.  I didn’t go with armor that didn’t fit me.  Instead I went with open arms, and two simple necklaces that adorned my neck reminding me of my purpose and of the joy and love within me.

With this armor, I walked with confidence.

The first necklace was a gift from my dear friend, Shanda.  It was made up of three simple silver circles with three powerful words engraved on each ring –  Mother, Daughter, Friend.  She wrote that the word “Mother” was a reminder of the mother’s love I have for these children, the way I care for them and go after them.  The word “Daughter” was a reminder that I am a daughter of the King and no matter what the men said to me or how they treated me while I was out in the streets, to remember that I am a daughter of the King, and nothing can change that.  The word “Friend” was a reminder of the friends who are praying for me and the children there.

Who would have thought that such a delicate chain would hold such weight.  It provided strength.

It wasn’t until after I arrived that I received the second piece of armor.  I remember that moment I stepped off the ferry, smiling and full of joy to have returned.  I made my way to where I was staying and within that first 30 minutes I was quickly reminded of the way the hissing noises, kissing sounds, and disrespectful glares and comments made by several men  just hit me with a punch of disgust.  I felt the weight of the reality of what I was doing.  But as I neared my hotel, I heard the peaceful voice of a gentleman calling out to me from his shop.  His voice calmed my spirit and I smiled and laughed as we talked.  He just wanted to thank me for the joy that I had.  He said that there was something different in me and just thanked me for bringing that there.  He then asked me to come with him into his shop and I figured he was going to try to sell me something.  But instead, he brought out a necklace and gave it to me just as a thank you and then helped me check into my hotel.  

This simple interaction reminded me of my purpose, the joy and love I have and want to give as I play futbol or share food…or just walk the streets.  I was there to Love…

I placed these two precious necklaces around my neck, each day, as I made my way through the city with my food and futbol.  This was the armor that fit me just right.  For it wasn’t too big, and it didn’t hinder me from the personal interaction I desired to have with the people of this community.  Instead it allowed me to open my arms and allow the real me to be seen.


And this is just the start of all that took place…

 

Each Child Has A Name.

اسمي جينيفر  I would say in my broken arabic, or “mi nombre es Jennifer” (spanish).  It was an introduction, a simple greeting to begin to let them know more of who I am so that I too could get to know them…

My time in Morocco was simply to give what I had and to get to know the community, the people, the children who live in the streets.  And as the children came to me in small groups, the food that I shared and the futbol that I provided allowed for introductory greetings and conversations, and above all, laughter.

You see, it is very important to me to develop relationships, to build trust, to learn, to know each person.

I don’t have the skill of gathering together large groups of people and I may never be able to serve many in numbers, but my desire is to know those that I can, to truly know them.  One by one, I will take the time to know them, to invest in them, to know their names, their identities so that they may see and grasp who they are and the hope of their futures.  I want to take time this month to share a few stories of my time in Morocco, and I begin with the hope I returned with of knowing a few more names.  I know that with time, trust, and authenticity, relationships will continue to form.

I left knowing no one, and returned with the hope of beginning to know five different children.  I know their names.  It’s just the beginning, but it’s a good start.

They are more than just faces in the streets and statistics.  Each child has a name, has an identity, and I’m going to take the time to know who they are…