Burrito Ministry

We are making breakfast burritos with no green chili! What a shame, right? Our “customers” want something a little easier on the stomach in the morning. We serve our brothers and sisters in Christ as they leave Shiprock detention center. They are released somewhere between 5:30-6:30 am. They are dehydrated, a little hung over and HUNGRY!

On Saturday nights we make homemade breakfast burritos in our own little assembly line. We wrap them in foil. Put them in the fridge and gather the other supplies for the morning and hit the hay early. The next morning all burritos are warmed in oven and placed in a cooler. Coffee is made for 36 cups and sometimes we get dozens of donuts donated to load as well!

We park outside the detention center. Tables and chairs are unloaded. Our little meal is spread out and we turn a little lamp on to show tired groggy eyes where we are in the dark parking lot. 

And then they come. Battered and bruised. Broken hearts and orphan spirits. They sit to eat and look nervously around just in case someone cared enough to come pick them up. The stories of trauma and crisis pour out over coffee. As they rise to leave, we ask, “Can we pray for you?” Only one “no” received so far. What a joy to pray hand in hand. Sometimes they pray too! Then they wander off into the new morning light.

Any burritos left  are loaded back in the truck and go to the local shopping center for the homeless that gather there. More prayers. More new friends.

We call it burrito ministry. 

-Ginger

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I’m hungry and I want to go home

We just didn’t feel like a church service inside a building that day. We woke up that Sunday and said, “Where does God want us to go?” We agreed…Shiprock! Honestly, we both thought we would drive around and pray for the city. But then we saw him. A man sitting alone, head down, spirit downcast. Derek jumped out and asked if there was anything he needed. A bottle of water? A pair of socks loaded with stuff for homeless? Prayer? He chose all three.

We sat with him as he drank his water. He explained he was just let out of the detention center. He had to leave his money at the jail and he was hungry. They don’t feed the over-nighters. Inmates are released in the early morning, hung over, dehydrated and hungry. As we began to pray with him, tears streamed down his face. He kept saying two phrases over and over…”I’m hungry” and “I want to go home.”

Derek began to pray about this young man being a son of a King. The sobbing started. Derek talked about purpose and destiny. The man cried out in prayer, “Father, I am your son!” He re-dedicated himself to the Lord. We took him to Taco Bell. He really was hungry!

As we sat and ate, we learned he had fallen off the wagon after 11 months of sobriety. A fight with his “woman” triggered him to walk 35 miles to Shiprock drinking all the way. He found himself sleeping in fields and getting “rolled” (stuff stolen and beat up) by other homeless men. Then jail.

He kept saying he wanted to go home. I wanted him to go home too. A couple of months before this I had a vision in the Spirit. I saw many men walking drunken, disheveled and almost zombies away from the Navajo Nation. In the vision I saw Light hit the nation. Suddenly these men woke up! They turned around and started home as whole human beings. Yes, we needed to get him home. 

I threw the idea out to see how Derek would react. Remember home was 35 miles away! We were already 20 miles from our home the opposite way! Derek was on board. We were taking him home. Along the way we visited like old friends. The man grew happier and happier. We dropped him at his lovely cabin at the base of mountains on the reservation. A call to his wife gave the promise of reconciliation. Numbers were exchanged and a blessing of prayer given. 

We sure loved church that day!

-Ginger

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Christmas on the Rez (Part 3)

Finally we could get to our agenda of seeing our new friends in Burnt Corn. As readers may remember, we met some very kind people in a small remote village called Burnt Corn the summer of 2013. They were the gracious people who invited us to the funeral where the horse also lost his life. We knew the children who lived here far away from any entertainment or stuff of the world would be excited for visitors. 

The snow had stopped and the roads were wet. Most roads in this area are dirt. The dirt here is red and perfect to make clay. Clay is a blessing for homes, but not always for roads….especially after snow! As we turned at the tire marked, “Burnt Corn” in bright yellow, Derek began to grimace. The road was a mess! It is hard to describe. The ruts of other drivers are about 6-9 inches deep. In Illinois, we would use those as a guide. In this area the ruts become sink holes that are slippery. Every rotation of the tire leads you into miry clay.

  

We remembered our hitchhiker warning that the roads may not be passable. We were in our truck, though! We are from Michigan and Illinois! We know how to manuever in snow! Derek’s teeth were clenched tight as he basically took the road foot by foot sideways. Soon we came upon a silver car stuck along side the road. It was all Derek could do to get our truck to stop so we could offer help. 

The man was trying to get back to the village as well and assured  us that someone was coming to tow him out. Derek asked if the the roads would be getting better. I am sure that secretly the man was having a good laugh thinking of us snaking our way back into the remote area to be caught in mud until spring! He basically told us to enter at our own risk.

Now remember….we started to have our own agenda here. We had visions of children and older Navajo ladies we had met flocking to us so grateful for a visit at Christmas. We had wandered from following Abba’s lead. Now we were quite literally spinning our wheels. We said good-bye to our stuck advisor and started to inch forward – right towards his car! Yes, we couldn’t straighten out. We just slid towards him. The poor guy had to jump into the mud and push US away from him! We barely missed his back end. We hollered “thanks!” And bumped on down the road. 

We discussed our stupidity as Derek clenched the wheel. I asked him to turn around. He asked me how that would happen exactly without a turn-around to be seen. I asked him what we would do if we were stuck. He asked me to pray we wouldn’t. The dog asked to get out to go to the bathroom. There was a resounding, “No!” in the truck. 

Sometimes we find ourselves off course in ministry. It just doesn’t feel blessed. What we want to do comes hard. It isn’t a matter of pressing in to make it work; it is a matter of waiting for the still voice of leading. As we travel farther into our own desires and expectations, we get stuck in ruts and anxiety because we aren’t following The Plan any more.

Up ahead there was a small road (term used loosely) for cattle and sheep probably. We slowed down to see if we could possibly pull in and back out to get back to the main road. Derek got out to survey the path. He was not very hopeful but looking ahead looked worse. He was covered in mud when he got back in the truck. He began the careful maneuvering into the small pathway. So far, so good. Now to back out and right. The truck slid and tried to do it’s own dance towards the ditch, but Derek kept her on the road. My prayers were desperate and full of self-pity. We were headed back out!

As we came up to the stuck car again, the man smiled. I am sure he was thinking of sharing this story in the village! Stupid bilagaanas! Wouldn’t you know it – our truck went right towards his car again! He had to jump out and push us away! We got past him and waved out the windows. I was instantly hit with a thought, ” We didn’t give him bread and candy!”

Yep. That wonderful husband of mine jumped back into the mud with bread in hand to offer love to the man who got us back on the right road.

-Ginger

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Christmas on the Rez (part 2)

Upon leaving Chinle, the weather took a turn for the worse. Pelting, freezing rain fell from the skies and the wind stole our breath. We were joyful in the warm truck. As we made the turn towards Pinion, we saw two men hitchhiking towards Pinion. Derek looked at me and said, “What do you think?” I shrugged and smiled with a “whatever you think.”

The two men were dressed in only sweatshirts and jeans. They were dirty and reeked of liquor. Archie and Arnold got in the back seat with big toothless grins. Our dog was skeptical and kept her eye on them from the front.

After introductions, Archie said, “We just got out of jail!” Derek and I stared straight ahead. 

Unfortunately the problem of alcohol continues to do great damage to First People. Though it is a dry reservation, the demon bottles find their way into young and old alike. Archie and Arnold had embibed too much and then became disorderly. Alcohol often leads to abuse, homocide, and a host of other problems. These two fellas were put in jail to dry out and come to their senses. Archie told us they had no cell phones as they were taken by police. He also mentioned his wife was “pissed!” 

Derek engaged them in conversation about Burnt Corn. They were impressed with his knowledge and Arnold was from that area. They mentioned the roads may be bad back there as the rain was turning to a blizzard. 

Derek also preached a bit and they quickly called him Christian. Derek said he hoped to never find them along this road again coming home from jail. They promised to obey. The cold was bitter now and we couldn’t imagine what would have happened to these two crazy guys. They were getting a ride to Pinion to the big gas station there. We didn’t ask what would happen from there.

Many times here near the rez, you will hear funny stories about picking up Native hitchhikers. They will tell you they need a ride “just up a few miles.” You will drive a few miles and they will say, “just one more turn.” Soon you find you have driven them to the other side of the state!

When we arrived in Pinion, I asked the men if they wanted to use my cell to call their wives. Arnold saw a relative at the gas station and he jumped right in their truck before they were done pumping! Derek made sure he sent bread, candy and well wishes with the family and Arnold. Another unexpected encounter.

Archie called his wife. When she answered he said, “Sweetie…” Swearing and yelling came through loud and clear on the other end! He spoke Navajo after that but occassionally I would hear, “Christian.”

Archie wanted money from us. He received bread and candy instead. This is a tough scenario anywhere there is poverty. Our Mormon friends in Pinion really have a hard time with this aspect. The people coming to their church and fellowships are angry when money isn’t given freely. Sometimes a story can really break your heart and discernment is necessary. Archie wasn’t breaking our hearts that day. 

We left for Burnt Corn with laughter filling our truck. We were wondering what our parents would say about picking up two strange men!

-Ginger

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Christmas on the Rez (Part 1)

On December 13, 2014 we took off in our pick-up truck with loaves of homemade bread and tins of candy for various areas on both the Hopi and Navajo Nations. We prayed that morning that we would be led only by Spirit. We knew some people we would like to see but we wanted to go where God led.

We decided to start in Chinle. A favorite place for us in the Navajo Nation. We would eat at one of the local restaurants and then head towards Burnt Corn near Pinon. We had happy hearts as we looked around at our brothers and sisters in the restaurant. As we finished eating, we looked out the large windows and noticed a small, old pick-up rolling from its parking spot. A young man was chasing it and apparently trying to get into the drivers seat. Other people were running to help. Derek said calmly, “I think that is going to hit our truck.” And indeed it did!

We got up to pay at the register. The young woman said, “I hope that wasn’t your truck that just got hit.”

Derek laughed and replied that it was ours. The woman couldn’t believe we weren’t angry! The Spirit of the Lord had us so filled with joy that we just wanted to see if everyone else was ok.

In the parking lot, the truck had been pushed back into the spot. An elderly couple, visually shaken, were sitting in the truck. The truck hadn’t been in gear when they got out and locked the doors! Their son ran over to stop it but couldn’t get in the cab. He tried brute strength to keep it from ramming into our truck but…well we know the result. Now the poor couple sat worrying and fretting.

Derek talked with the son and assured him there was no damage to our vehicle. Even our dog who was waiting inside seemed unphased. Derek went over and comforted the couple, even hugging the woman! We gathered bread and candy to passs out and told them how the Lord had sent us that day. Laughter and smiles were the scene the folks inside observed now. 

We went on our way amazed by the first encounter that we certainly hadn’t planned on. Who would God bring next?

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Pennies from Heaven

It has been a long time since I have blogged. We have been in a “season” here. A time of reflection, learning, crying and laughing. We have lived in New Mexico for 3 months on November 4. We (3 adults) have lived in our RV for almost 3 months. I have worked 12 hour days and some weekends for 3 months. Derek has emptied black tanks, fixed leaks, switched our life over to NM for 3 months and worked on top of it all. We have lived a very different life for 3 months. One of smallness…not just in living space but in everything we do.

Before this journey as we packed up our life in Illinois, I would find a penny here and a penny there. Dimes are our signs from God. Double portion of blessings found in silver in the craziest places. Some of our readers may have heard Derek’s testimonies on this. But I was finding pennies. One at a time. At first I sneered at God and said, “Sure. Derek gets dimes and I get pennies.” But in my devotional time I felt God was saying, “It is in the small things. Every little thing counts. Every small blessing is me just as large blessings are.” I began to rejoice in a penny just for the sake of remembering all the small things add up.

On November 1st we were in Albuquerque, NM. We received the news that our home in Huntley had been rented finally. What a load off our minds financially. What a long-awaited blessing for us. I walked out to our truck from our hotel room. Our truck was backed into a place far away from others. As I walked to my side of the truck, the ground caught my eye. There on the pavement with no other vehicles around were many pennies. 41 to be exact.

pennies

There are many references in the Bible about 40. Years in the desert. Days in temptation. The trials of life. I am weak. The last 3 months have been a trial for me. It was a temptation to just move the life we had in Illinois to New Mexico. That wasn’t why we were called here. A refining is happening to our family. A change needs to happen. One little thing at a time. I must hear the cry of His people. I must recognize the cry. I wasn’t going to hear it living the life I led at a new zip code. My values are being adjusted. My priorities are being straightened out. My endurance is being tested. I am truly learning to wait upon the Lord. We aren’t even going to get a house right away at this point. He will tell us when it is right.

There is a lot to go through still. There is a lot to learn about living in Presence rather than myself. But as Derek and I reflected on the number 41, he felt it was a return on those “40” whatevers we have just come through. A restoring of what was sacrificed. A healing of the days of tears. Yahweh gave it all back …plus 1.

-ginger

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Everthing is harder…

In my devotions the other day I found these words hard to fathom, ” We tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us. In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. ” – C. Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

What?! Then what, pray tell, is this whole move to New Mexico ride about? I thought God called us to it, we went, we would be successful. Success meaning job, home, ministry flourishing, and added benefits of health and happiness. Success at all of this for the Sanders was part of the journey, right?

I will not bring the reader to tears from boredom but this has been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. It took awhile for me to even “get on board” with the calling to create Hear the Cry. Once I got my mind around it, I felt like the journey would be blessed with great success. Instead, everything is harder. When I say everything, I mean it! The three of us plus our dog are now living in a 38 foot motorhome. The truck load of stuff we brought from Illinois (after selling, donating and leaving at curb almost half of it) is in storage. Besides the emotional side of leaving our oldest daughter, Cori, and her husband Nick behind, we now have the physical and mental task of starting a new life.

The other day I needed my gym shoes. They are kept on the dash of the motorhome with other family shoes. I climbed over Katie’s bed, then the chair, then a small table followed by Katie’s plastic tote of her clothes. I reached across to grab my shoes. One fell down in front of the passenger seat. I felt defeated. It took so much to get there to lose the goal. Just like every other task in this situation! I know the reader is shaking their head and/or laughing. This was a breakdown for me. I yelled at my family. I yelled at God. Once I detangled from the aforementioned list of obstacles, I cried. I cried because it was hard. This is hard. My comfortable box is gone. (All 2400 square feet of it!) The job I loved and excelled at is gone. My family, friends and support system is far away. It doesn’t seem like God wants success for me.

As I ponder these feelings and meditate upon my purpose in this place, I come to one of my favorite psalms. The 23rd. Yeah, you know it. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” I sure want a lot. I don’t seem to be using God as a Shepherd. I seem to be wandering into the valley alone. What are my priorities? Is it success? New home, new job, new support system in another state? No. I was called. That’s enough. It feels like free falling right now but my God is big. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this. One of them is about obedience. More on that later…I gotta find that shoe.

– Ginger

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