Sunday, August 6, 2017

An Update from Us

Hello friends!  Sorry we’ve been so quite over here on this side of the world.  We are doing well.  We’re thankful to be nearing the end of the US summer as it’s always a busy time for us with visitors.  In May, we kicked off the US summer with a team from the UGA Wesley Foundation.  As most of you know, I was a part of the Wesley Foundation for the 9 years that I spent in Athens and it was there that I truly learned who God is and who I am in Him.  So it’s always a blessing to have my former Wesley world collide with my current Mozambique world!!  Last month we had a team of 16 high schoolers from Durban, South Africa here with us for 5 days followed by a team of 8 young adults from the same church.  We also had a few individuals that passed through Masana…some for a few days and others for a few weeks.  Our final visitor leaves on Thursday of this week and then we’ll be back to our normal household - Roberto, the girls and I along with Ian, another missionary, and the 4 boys we care for.  

Things have been going well at Masana.  We had a lull in the number of boys that were attending each day so we did a big push of going out to the areas of the city where the boys stay and visiting them.  There is so much power in one of these street boys knowing that someone notices when he’s absent.  I shared with our staff last week that us making the effort to go out looking for boys we haven’t seen in a while is like Jesus leaving the 99 to find the 1.  And He blesses that effort!  Ever since we did a week of street visits in early July, we’ve averaged 30 boys a day at the center.  This month we have just begun a teaching series on what it means to be men of God.  Each staff member has chosen the story of a character in the Bible and will be pulling out characteristics that man showed that made him a man of God.  I’ve also invited some men from our community to share with the boys on a perusal level of what it means to be a man of God.  Please pray with us that the boys will truly receive all that we are teaching this month and that they will begin to make choices to become the men that God has called them to be.  

We continue to work with the 4 boys that are living in our house in Catembe, across the bay from the city.  Y’all know that our heart is for family and that we always want to see the boys restored to their families.  But after so many years of doing this ministry with the street boys, we realize that that is not the reality for all of these boys.  There exist some boys who would just rather stay on the streets than be another mouth to feed at home.  There is a certain disgrace that comes from being a 16 or 17 year old young man that cannot contribute to his family financially.  It’s these boys that we feel God is calling us to help through the house in Catembe.  This year is serving as a year of adjustment for these boys - a year to leave behind the habits of the streets and to accustom again to life in a home with rules and structure.  These 4 boys are studying in local schools - 1 in the 5th grade, 2 in the 6th grade and 1 in 10th grade.  Most of them have a long way to go with their schooling but we’ll be so happy if they progress in reading and writing basic Portuguese.  Next year we’ll look at getting these 4 boys registered in a vocational skills training course or paired up with a professional that will teach them a skill.  From there, our hope is that they will have the ability to make an income that will either allow them to return home as a contributing member of the household or rent a place on their own.  On a side note, 3 of these 4 boys are currently completing a course at our church in preparation to be baptized!!

Starting this month, Roberto will be teaching some health and physical education classes at the American International School of Maputo.  He’s already taught swimming lessons there for a few years.  He’s excited about this new opportunity and hopeful that it could eventually lead to a full-time contract.  The greatest blessing that would come with him getting a contract would be that our girls could study at the American School which offers the highest quality education available in Mozambique (but it’s also the most expensive school in the country, hence the need for Roberto to work there.)  Please pray for Roberto as he meets the students next week and begins this new chapter of his life.  He’s also considering going to university starting in January to get his degree as a PE teacher.  

Adoption wise…we are still waiting.  One piece of news that we received recently is that the little boy that we thought we’d adopt has now been reunited with his parents!  What confirmation that we were hearing from God regarding him.  After a couple of weekend visits with this boy, Roberto felt strongly that we needed to backdown.  We have no idea how his family appeared…perhaps they heard he was about to be adopted.  But no matter how it happened, we rejoice that his family has been restored.  We are still in contact with local orphanages and social services on a weekly basis.  We trust that God is preparing the perfect little boy to complete our family.  

Thank you all for standing with us as we continue our ministry among the street boys of Maputo.  If you have time, check out our facebook page for lots of photos of the work we’re doing with the boys, www.facebook.com/masanaproject.  If God leads you to support our ministry financially, you can send support to the below address with “Mondlane Family” on the memo line or go to www.abbasambassadors.org for info on how to give online:
Abba's Ambassadors Inc.
PO Box 165
South Salem,  NY 10590

We love y’all!!!
Blessings!
Sarah Mondlane and family

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Different Approach to Reaching Street Boys


The vision of Masana has always been about reaching street children and rebuilding families.  In the past, that has been accomplished through building relationships with boys as they attend our day center, speaking with them about God's design of family and the need to return to theirs.  We teach often on the plans and purposes God has for their lives and the fact that those plans and purposes cannot come to be as long as they are living on the streets.  We have helped over 100 boys leave the streets of Maputo.  Over 100 families have been rebuilt.

But now, something new is happening amongst the street boys of Maputo.  HIV rates for adults in Mozambique are around 11% but in the capital city of Maputo, that number is closer to 20%.  We are starting to see the truth of those numbers reflected in the street boy population.  In the past 10 months, 6 of our boys have tested HIV+.  No longer are the conversations with these boys simply about the need to return to their families where they can enter into the plans and purposes God has for their lives.  Now the conversations are about returning to their families where they can receive the treatment and support they need and live a long and healthy life.  It's about convincing them that a positive test does not mean their is no longer hope.  There is Hope.

In the past few months, we've begun talking more about HIV/AIDS at Masana.  We've held 2 testing days with over 50 boys being tested in total.  We've invited professionals to teach on preventative measures.  Just this past week, we began a circumcision campaign as male circumcision is shown to reduce rates of transmission of HIV by 40%.  We're doing all we can to reach these boys before they have a positive HIV test.

And for those that do have that positive test, we make sure they get the care they need at the local hospital.  We encourage them to go home so that they can live in a clean environment with less exposure to sickness.  We go with them to their home to help break the news to their families.  We provide food packages on a monthly basis because we know how important proper nutrition is in staying healthy.  And most of all, we encourage them not to lose hope.  God still has incredible plans and purposes for their lives.  With the proper treatment, which, thank God, is readily available here in Mozambique, they can still live a very normal life.  There is Hope.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Finally Home




I met Zelfo in 2009 when I first started working with Masana.  He was one of the hardest boys to love...a bully to all the younger boys on the street.  I remember fiercely defending the little boys when Zelfo would take their food or force them to give a portion of the money they made begging on the streets.  He was well known by everyone who lived on the street.  We took him home two or three times but he always came back to the streets.  We even paid for him to go to South Africa where his brother lives, but still he ended up back on the street.  Over the years he softened up a bit.  He had stopped coming to Masana because of his age but he'd visit us from time to time.  He always knew he was welcome here if he was sick or injured.


A few weeks ago he showed up because he needed us.  He has been badly burned while trying to remove some electrical wires in an abandoned building.  Someone had taken him to the hospital but he ran away.  He showed up here with a barely recognizable face and wearing hospital clothes.  After chatting for a bit, Roberto and I convinced him to go back to the hospital with the promise that we would visit daily.  He accepted but only stayed 2 more days before running away again.

Fast-forward to last Friday.  One of our regular boys showed up at the gate and asked me to come outside and speak with him.  He had bad news.  Zelfo had passed away during the night.  Roberto and I quickly got in the car and went to the area of the city where he had been staying but the police had already removed his body.  So we went to the morgue at the Central Hospital where the police agent had us identify his body.  He needed Zelfo's personal data to put on the hospital intake form.  I was stumped.  I knew that Zelfo was he "street name" not his real name but I couldn't remember his real name.  So the agent had to list him as "unknown."  We headed back to Masana and I searched through our notebooks where boys' stories are recoded.  Jose Lino.  23 years old.  From Xai-Xai.

We tracked down Zelfo's family and 3 of them arrived at Masana on Sunday from up north.  That night we had a memorial service for all of the street boys to come together and honor the life of Zelfo.  80 people showed up.  Like I said, he was famous on the streets of Maputo.

Monday and Tuesday I spent hours with the family at the hospital trying to get Zelfo's body released for his burial.  We had to go to 3 police stations to find his process so that his name could be changed from "unknown" to "Jose Lino."  When it came time for his family to identify his body, they couldn't do it.  It wasn't because they were nervous about seeing him dead...they literally couldn't identify him because they didn't recognize him.

That was the hardest part about this whole ordeal.

Not spending hours sitting at the morgue with the stench of death all around.

Not walking through the morgue and seeing bodies everywhere....treated with so little respect.

Not treading with caution so that I didn't slip in whatever that gross liquid was on the floor.

Not the shock of them opening the refrigerator and pulling out the drawer with, not 1, but 2 bodies crammed in together.

The hardest part was realizing that Zelfo had spent so much time on the street that his own family didn't even recognize him.  Over half of his life had been spent on the streets.  Masana literally was the closest family he had.

I fought back tears as I stepped in to do the official identification of the body.  Precious Zelfo.  Notorious Zelfo.  His defiant attitude was both annoying and inspiring. He knew who he was and what he wanted. He was strong and was a bully. But he was also a big softy who hated his picture being taken.

Jose Lino.

To us you were not an "unknown" street boy.  You were Zelfo.  And we loved you.  Thank you for the privilege of caring for you these past 8 years.  You are home now.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Give Thanks to the Lord

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.  Psalm 136:1



Despite a rough start to 2017, God is teaching us so much about the importance of taking time to reflect on Him and what He is doing in the midst of hard times.

We returned from the USA to news that 2 of the rooms we had built last year at our center had to be torn down.  One of those rooms was to be a bedroom for 2 street boys that we had invited to live with us in a one year transitional phase to get them off the street.  We scrambled and came up with a plan B....add a bedroom onto the house that Roberto and I have built on our personal land across the bay from the city.  What should have been a 3 or 4 week building project (a bedroom, kitchen, and veranda) is now looking like 6 weeks because of the lack of water.  Apparently cement work is difficult without water.  But, we give thanks to the Lord because there is still a home for Jose and Arlindo to live in this year and they have settled in well.

Speaking of a lack of water, we also returned to news that the reservoir that supplies water to Maputo is almost dry.  The water company has started rationing water in an attempt to stretch out what little water is left in the reservoir as we wait for rains.  We now only get water every other day.  We were managing fine until our day center reopened and we all of a sudden had 30+ people needing to wash clothes and bathe at our house.  After a couple of weeks of running out of water most days, we were able to purchase a 5000L tank and install it at our house so that we still have water on the off days.  We give thanks to the Lord for provision of water.

We started the year short staffed at Masana because of 2 staff members out on maternity leave, 1 completing an internship for his university course, and 1 stuck in the USA awaiting documents to return.  One of the other street kids' centers here in our city stopped accepting children during the day because of funding issues which means the number of boys at Masana increased.  35 boys a day with only 4 staff members was not easy.  But we give thanks to the Lord for the new boys that are now a part of our ministry and for the hard work of our staff members.

This past Friday was our first staff day of the year.  We read Psalm 136 together.  The first 9 verses are easy to ready as they talk about praising the God who created the heavens and earth.  When we got to the verses that talk about praising the God who killed the first born of every family in Egypt and who killed mighty kings, I debated jumping ahead.  But I didn't.  Because our God is both a beautiful Creator and a just Ruler.  Sometimes God's ways are harsh.  But His ways lead to freedom for the people of God.  Sometimes there is suffering.  But joy comes in the morning.  How many times have we seen God take hard situations and bring glory to His name?  How many boys have chosen to leave the streets and go home because of suffering?  So we give thanks to the Lord in both the hard times and the blessed times.  His love endures forever.