Friday, December 30, 2011

Street Kids Christmas

On December 22, we had a Christmas party for about 35 boys. Each year, our day center closes for 6 weeks during the holidays. We encourage the boys to go visit their families during this time. Some do and some don't. For the younger ones that choose to stay on the streets during the holidays, they rarely bathe or wash their clothes. So needless to say, on the day of the party, we were prepared for some dirty, smelly boys! We pulled out some clothes that had been donated and offered a t-shirt and pair of pants/shorts to each boy as he came in. Sadly, most of the clothes were way to big for the boys but I handed out strips of curly ribbon to be used as belts!

Once the boys were all nice and clean, the party started! Some friends of ours who also live here in Maputo, Dave and Amy, organized a bunch of fun games for the boys.

We bobbed for apples (the first time the boys had ever seen that game!).

We played chubby bunny.

We had a bubble-gum-bubble-blowing contest.

We did the classic relay race of finding the candy in the plate of flour using only your mouth.

We had a water balloon toss followed by a water balloon fight!

And finally the boys made paper chains and blew up balloons to decorate.

Meanwhile, Mama Julia was busy busy busy in the kitchen preparing 15 chickens (that we had killed and plucked the day before), salad, rice, and french fries. Before lunch was served, we gathered all the kids together and Luis told them all the Christmas story and talked about why Jesus came to live on the earth. If you've ever visited me in Mozambique, you know what a great story teller Luis is. He really gets into it! This story was complete with jumping up on one of our picnic tables to act out the part of the angel who appeared before Mary. Unfortunately, our tables are a little worn out and his foot went through the table as he was jumping down (sorry Ian!).

After the Christmas story, we served lunch and yummy chocolate cake
Before the boys left, they each got a small present. For some reason, Lauren and I had the great idea of giving each of the boys a box of Pops....those little things you throw on the ground and they make a loud popping sound. Very quickly the boys discovered they could throw the Pops at their friends feet and scare them with the noise. A popping war broke out!

And that is Christmas with the street kids. Beautiful, isn't it?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

This past Thursday, as families all over the States were gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving, I was thousands of miles from my family. But I had the beautiful privilege of taking a boy who had been living on the streets for a few years back to his family.

Abel is 13 years old. His great grandparents live about an hour from the city as well as one of his brothers. His mother and grandmother live closer to the city but for Abel, his great-grandparents place is home. His great-grandparents were so excited to see him, although at first they didn't recognize him as it had been at least 2 years since they'd seen him. His great grandfather pulled out all of Abel's documents and old school papers as well as some family photos. He spoke to us about the love they have for Abel and how they want him to stay home with them and eventually take over the family farm.

Their joy over their returned great grandson was beautiful.

This was a Thanksgiving I will never forget.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Beach Day!

The Mozambican school year has now ended. That means no lessons at Masana for the month of November!! We are seeking creative ways to entertain the boys each day and, living on the coast, the beach is always a hit. So once a week we pile all 30-something boys as well as 6 or 7 adults into our 2 cars and drive to Costa do Sol for a couple of hours.

I love beach days because I see the boys forgetting about the harshness of street life as they play soccer, swim, build houses out of sand and, well, just be kids.

Prodigal Son Party

Back in March, while I was in the States begining my cancer treatments, I had the idea of throwing a prodigal son party at Masana on the day that a boy is being reintegrated. In the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15, the father gives the son 3 gifts and a huge party:

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:22-24

So began the tradition of Prodigal Son Parties at Masana. This past week, I was blessed to be here for Solomão's party. Luis, who is the head of our reintegration team, did a beautiful job of telling the story of the prodigal son and the significance of the 3 gifts - a robe, a ring, and shoes. Each of the gifts symbolize honor, position, and sonship. For Solomão, the shirt, ring, and sandals he received are to remind him of the commitment he is making as he leaves the streets and is reunited with his family.

Please keep Salomão in your prayers as he adjusts to life back at home.

Halloween In Maputo

This past Monday I taught all of the Masana boys about halloween and the idea of dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. I had some old pictures on my computer from the halloween parties we use to have at our house in Athens so I was able to print off a picture of me dressed as Strawberry Shortcake to show all of the boys. That night, the 6 boys that are living with us right now sneakily put together costumes and trick-or-treated at our house. Thankfully, there was a bag of Reese's cups in the freezer that I was able to give them!!! However, that means we no longer have a surplus of reese's cups in the freezer for those days when we just need a little taste of America....anyone want to send some our way?
note: all donations of resse's cups and any other american goodies can be sent to our p.o. box in south africa:
Sarah Olds
Suite 337 Private Bag X11340
Nelspruit 1200 South Africa

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tears of Joy

Little David ran away from home over 3 years ago and has been living on the streets ever since. He recently decided he was ready to return home so we drove him there yesterday. His house is in a very remote village about 2 hours from the city. We drove to the house that his family lived in when he left 3 years ago but no one was home. After speaking to a neighbor, we realized his family had moved to a new house. Thankfully, David knew where this new house was located.

Upon arriving at the correct house, David's aunt gave us chairs to sit in. One of his little cousins was quite scared of us because she had never seen white people in her village. She ran away when we first walked up but soon came back to see why we were there. Luis, my coworker, began introducing us to the aunt...."Sarah, Lauren, Luis." Lastly, he pointed to David and said "and this young man you already know." The aunt shook her head no and took a better look at David's face. About the time Luis said the name "David" you could see the look of recognition registering on the face of his aunt.

And then the tears of joy started falling.

David was crying. I was crying. Lauren was crying. The aunt was crying. And shouting. And jumping up and down. And running to call other family members.

It was beautiful.

Another prodigal son is home.

(David in the white jersey with his family)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome Home!!!

I'M BACK IN MOZAMBIQUE!!! When I arrived this past Sunday, I was greeted at the airport by a group of the Masana boys holding a banner they had made spelling out "Tia Sarah." It was a beautiful welcome. We had a dinner that night with the 6 boys living with us and a couple of other missionaries who have become dear friends. Monday was a super fun day at Masana to celebrate my return. There were 40 boys here to celebrate! My housemates and the Mozambican staff had planned a special lunch and even put together a drama about my time in America so that all the boys would understand a bit more about my cancer treatments.

It's so great to be home!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cancer: Done!

It is 8:00 in the morning and I am sitting in the Washington Dulles airport waiting to board an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Maputo, Mozambique. My heart is full of so many emotions. 227 days ago I called my doctor in South Africa for my biopsy results. Breast cancer. Then I made the hard decision to leave my home in Mozambique and return to Georgia for treatment. When I left Mozambique on March 13, I thought I'd knock my treatments out quickly and be back in June. Guess I was wrong. Today is October 8. My last radiation treatment was yesterday. 7 months in the States going through treatment.

So here I am. I just said goodbye to my family and friends who have been so amazingly supportive these past 7 months. I'm so excited to be on my way back to Mozambique but I'm also a bit nervous. 7 months is a long time to be gone. I mean I definitely look different than I did in March when I left! Gone is the long, curly, red hair and I am currently a very short blonde. What will the boys think and say when they see me? Will I remember their names? Will I remember how to speak Portuguese? Will my limited knowledge of the language allow me to communicate how deeply I have missed them all and to share about my journey through cancer? Will I remember how to drive on the opposite side of the road with crazy, aggressive drivers? Will I remember the names of roads? Will I be able to pick up right where I left off in March? Will Maputo still feel like home?

So many questions. But not one that can be answered until I am there. I can choose to continue dwelling on these worries for the next 20-something hours or I can give them to God and trust that He is walking this out with me.

I choose the latter. I take comfort in my Father's voice. "Fear not. I am with you."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Journey To Mozambique (part 5)

In January 2009 I began working with Masana. I was the only non-Mozambican on staff. And I loved it!!! I love that it was a group of Mozambicans with a passion for their own children. In the years since I began working with Masana, the project has grown and changed a bit. In 2010, Ian Krohn, from America, and Lauren Nixon, from South Africa, joined our staff. We moved the project to the house that Ian, Lauren and I live in where we have much better facilities. But our heart remains the same: to help street kids reach the place that they are ready to leave the streets and return to their families . . . to see their hope restored.

Each day, around 30 boys ages 8-18 show up at Masana as soon as the sun rises. They get breakfast and lunch with us. We provide them with a place to shower and wash their clothes. We teach basic literacy classes . . . the first schooling that many of them have ever had. We provide basic first aid and medical care when needed. We have a soccer program for the boys, to allow them time to just be boys and play. Each day, we have a worship service and a time of teaching from the Word of God. We use this time to talk about life on the streets and how God has better plans for their lives. And then we leave it up to the Holy Spirit to really move in the boys and bring them to the place that they are ready to change.

When a boy decides to return home, we go visit his family. The majority of the time, the boys have run away and have decent families that they could be living with. We meet with the family members to discuss why their son is on the streets and whether or not he is welcome to return home. The boy then enters into a one month transitional phase in which he lives at the project. We use this time to help the boy get use to having some responsibility again as opposed to the complete freedom they are use to on the streets. We also spend time together in the Word with a focus on God’s heart for family and teaching the boys Godly characteristics they need to work on in order to succeed back at home.

At the end of the month, we take the boy back to his family with a suitcase full of clothes, blankets, a sleeping mat, and other basic necessities he needs to adjust back to life with his family. We register the boy for school in his community and provide his uniform and school supplies. For the older boys, we help them start up a small business. We visit the boy and his family on a monthly basis for the next year. We make ourselves available anytime the families need us. Our hope is that, rather than running back to the streets when something goes wrong, the boys will learn to work through their problems. Time and time again, the families call on us to be there and help mediate through family issues.

Since 2009, we have helped over 30 boys return to their families. Not all of them are still at home today but the majority of them all. That is the heart of Masana. Restoring the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children (Malachi 4:6).

We have dreams for the future . . . ways we want to invest in the lives of these boys and their families on a deeper level. We want to have a skills training program so that we can help the older boys get jobs. We want to start a farming project, employ some of the boys, use some of the produce for the daily meals at Masana and sell the rest. We want Masana to be self-sustaining rather than dependent upon foreign funding. As I think about these dreams for our future, I am encouraged by God’s faithfulness already. And I have hope that these dreams too shall come to pass.

My Journey To Mozambique (part 4)

About halfway into my first year in Mozambique, I found myself wanting to spend more and more time among the street kids. The weekly church service with them and the afternoons out in the city when I would run into some of the boys became the moments when I felt most alive. Though working with Iris Ministries was a safe place, I knew God was pushing me out of that comfort zone. I met with the directors at the Iris center and shared my heart with them. At the time, I did not know of any projects working with street kids full time but I knew God was calling me to step out in faith. Within a week of telling the directors I would not be returning for another year at the center, I was invited to a meeting with a friend. She was in Mozambique from New York and was trying to connect with different projects around the city. This particular meeting was with a pastor she had been told about that worked with street kids.

At this meeting, Pastor Paulo, told us all about Masana, a day center for street kids that focused on helping the kids return to their families. As he described the project, it was word for word my heart. I felt God opening the door. And, as if it wasn’t clear enough, Pastor Paulo said that they had been praying for a missionary to work with them. I was blown away by God’s faithfulness! I had decided in my heart that I would just move to the city and start hanging out with street kids, seeing where they went each day, and looking for opportunities to help out. But again, God in his kindness had such better plans for me!!!

Now if you'll remember from part 1 and 2 of my journey, I had often questioned whether God was calling me to the nations or the inner city. I was passionate about both! In moving to Mozambique I thought I had chosen the nations. But God, in his faithfulness, was giving me both of my passions....the inner city in Africa!

My Journey To Mozambique (part 3)

So here I am about one month after moving to Maputo. One of the other missionaries, Brooke (who became a dear friend!!) and I decided to check out the street outreach. We loaded up in the van with some visitors and older youth from the Iris center. When we got to the city, we gathered street kids and had a church service. That night I met 2 little boys, Gaspar and Zacarius. These brothers became a huge part of my life. At the time, Gaspar was 7 or 8 and Zacarius was around 9 or 10. They were new to the streets. I was drawn to them because they were so little and you could just see the fear in them. We ended up taking both of them back to the Iris Center with us that night. Brooke and I let them shower in our house and found some clean clothes for them to wear. The joy on their faces was like a child on Christmas morning!

The next day, some Mozambican workers spoke with the boys and tried to sort out their family history. It turns out they had both run away from home. The workers made contact with the boys’ father and he agreed to take Zacarius but refused to take little Gaspar. He said Gaspar was just too much trouble. So Zacarius went home with his dad while Gaspar began living at the Iris Center.

A few weeks later, Brooke and I were in the city and saw Zacarius on the street. We spent some time talking to him about why he had left home again. He claimed his father was abusive. Though it saddened me greatly, I knew we couldn’t take him back to the center since he had already been placed back with his father. I began looking for Zacarius every time I went to the city. We found out his mother lived not far outside the city so we began offering to take him there. Eventually, he said yes so Brooke and I took him home and met his mom for the first time. That day began a cycle of Zacarius staying home and returning to the streets that continues to this day.

With the company of a couple of Mozambican youth from the Iris Center, we began visiting Zacarius every few weeks at his home. Every time we went, the kids from the village would come from everywhere to see us. With such a captive audience, we began teaching Bible stories. We discovered that, as long as Zacarius knew we were coming back, he wouldn’t run away so we began going every other week and then every week. Eventually it turned into weekly children’s church sitting on a mat outside of Zacarius’ house with anywhere from 10 to 30 children.

My Journey to Mozambique (part 2)

After returning from my first trip to Mozambique, I knew I’d be going back and I began to plan for that. It wasn't a grand, supernatural calling from God but simply a knowing in my heart that that was where He was directing me.

I had already committed to being at the Wesley Foundation the next school year so I knew it would be almost 12 months before I could return . . . a season of preparation. And it was a wonderful last year in Athens and at Wesley. The Lord renewed my passion for my ministry in the inner city. God, in His kindness, brought me to a place that it was actually hard to leave Athens. And this was a gift as my years at Wesley had been so instrumental in my walk with God and it’s allowed me to continue to carry Wesley in my heart. Though Wesley is not really a place you go back to after leaving, I have continued to consider it my home church and have been blessed by my continued relationships with Bob and a handful of the directors. As the year ended and my passion for the children's ministry in the housing projects was renewed, I again found myself questioning whether God was calling me to the nations or to the inner city.

In May, 2007 I took a second Wesley mission team to Mozambique and we spent 3 weeks at the Iris Children’s Center just outside of the capital city. This time, when the team left, I traveled to northern Mozambique and attended a 3 month ministry school led by Heidi and Rolland Baker. It was an incredible summer of really learning about the heart of this woman that had been the focus of life changing prophecies spoken over me.

After the ministry school, I spent 4 months in the States raising support before moving to Mozambique in December. My first year in Mozambique, I was working at the Iris Children’s center near the capital, Maputo. I started helping out with a weekly outreach among the street kids. So less than one month after moving to Maputo, I had my first interaction with street kids and, little did I know, it would be the beginning of what is now my full time ministry!!

My Journey To Mozambique (part 1)

In anticipation of my return to Mozambique in just a few days, I thought I'd take some time to share how I ended up as a missionary in Mozambique. As I look back over the years and steps that led me to where I am, it is a beautiful journey orchestrated by God.

I pray that as you read of God's faithfulness in directing my steps, that you will be encouraged. His Word says, "Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path." That promise is for you!!!

My journey . . .

In 2005, I was working at the Wesley Foundation. I was the director of children’s ministry and oversaw 3 programs in the low income housing communities around the UGA campus. The 2004-2005 school year was my 4th year leading these ministries. My job had become so administrative that I was beginning to lose my passion for it. In the summer of 2005, I went to a service at Daystar Church in Atlanta where I received a prophetic word about a ministry among the poor similar to that of Heidi Baker. I had never heard of Heidi Baker at this point so I called a friend, Clay Kirkland, on the way home and asked him who she was. He just kept saying “Serious power! Serious power!” When I got home, I looked her up on the internet and found links to her ministry in Mozambique. Right away, I emailed about the possibility of bringing a team from Wesley.

A couple of months later, I was at a random church that met in a barn in Social Circle. They ended up prophesying over my friends and me. The words given to me were again relating to Heidi Baker and a calling to sit in the dirt with the poor.

In May, 2006 I took my first trip to Maputo, Mozambique and spent 2 weeks at the Iris Ministries children’s center. As both a student and staff member at Wesley, I had been on mission trips all over the world. But this was the first trip where I really fell in love with the people and had a hard time leaving. From the moment I returned to Athens, I began wrestling with the Lord about my calling. I was drawn to the passage in the Gospels about the woman who anoints the feet of Jesus with the expensive perfume and the verse in 2 Corinthians that says, “We are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved.” For the first time ever, I found myself questioning what my life was being poured out for and whether or not I was where God wanted me. Was God calling me to the nations or to the inner city?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reflecting 3

Perhaps the most special part of God’s faithfulness to me through this journey has been His constant presence. I have not once struggled with being angry at Him or questioning His goodness. My heart towards Him has really been protected. From the moment I received the diagnosis, I’ve known that I’d be okay but that this was just a rode I had to walk.

I know that God’s hand has held me up these past months. He’s given me strength for every treatment and perseverance to keep going. He’s filled me with joy even in the midst of the hardest parts such as losing my hair. I think He has even protected me from too many side effects. Back in April, God kept putting the book of Daniel on my heart and I've come back time and time again to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. After being removed from the furnace by the king, Daniel 3:27 says, "They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was the hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them." I believe that God has done this in me. He allowed me to go through the fire but has kept me from any real harm.

I am now only 2 weeks from the end of my radiation treatments and going home. My doctor has given me clearance to fly back as soon as the treatments end and I am literally going to do that! My last treatment is the morning of October 7 and I plan to fly home that night. With each passing day I find myself filled with more joy because each passing day is a day closer to going home. . . back to the ministry and boys I love.

Reflecting 2

It is so evident to me that God’s hand has been on the financial side of my treatment. I’ve joked with friends that Masana, my ministry in Mozambique, is actually making money off of my cancer! When I first arrived back in the States, I was given a gift towards my medical treatment and told that if I didn’t need it for medical purposes, I could put it towards our project in Mozambique. And I haven’t needed it! God has completely covered my treatments…every doctor’s appointment, scan, surgery, chemo drug, and radiation treatment. Even my flights to and from the States for treatment have been paid for.

I see the hand of God in my team of doctors. God blessed me with a great medical team who have been 100% behind getting me back to Mozambique as soon as possible. They have been so encouraging throughout my treatments. They have taken time to get to know me and to find out more about my ministry in Mozambique. Some of them have even gone back and read my old blog posts. My radiation oncologist connected me with some friends of hers that were preparing for a mission trip to Mozambique just so I could answer any questions they had. One of my radiation nurses has on a few occasions shared with me what she believes God is doing in me during this season. It’s meant so much to have a team of doctors who are truly invested in me!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


As I near the end of my treatment, I have tried to reflect back over the past months. God’s faithfulness has been the theme to this journey…and my life really. I am blessed to be able to look back over the years and clearly see the hand of God. It is so evident that He has directed my steps. And with that knowledge, I can trust that He is directing my steps even through this battle with cancer.

Not long after I arrived in the States for treatment, I was at a worship service with Athens Link and they spent time praying over me. One of the women prayed that a greater anointing would be on my life in Mozambique because of what God would do in me during this battle with cancer. She prayed that this hard season would produce fruit for my boys. That is a prayer I have clung to these past months and I look forward to returning to Mozambique and seeing the impact that this time away will have on my ministry there.

I don’t think I’m far enough away from this journey yet to see clearly all that God has been doing. . . but I am able to see a few things and I'd like to share those over the next couple of days.

When I first received the news from my doctor that it was cancer, I had a team of visitors from a church visiting me in Mozambique. They were such a blessing as they surrounded me and prayed for me and gave me freedom to hide away and cry a little when I needed to. And that was just the beginning of God’s faithfulness in providing a great cloud of witnesses to encourage me all though this journey. I’ve been overwhelmed by the cards, emails, scarves, movie subscriptions, and random gifts given to me since I arrived back in the States. Friends have been great about inviting me to lunch or a movie. I’ve even been able to reconnect with a couple of friends that I grew up with and spend quality time with them that we haven’t had since I moved to Athens in 1998. God has surrounded me with a “great cloud of witnesses” like I’ve never experienced in my life.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2

Thank you for being a part of my great cloud of witnesses!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nearing the End.

As I write this post, I am recovering from my last round of chemo. It has been quite the whirlwind since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February. This season of my life has definitely been the hardest. There were definitely some hard days and I have hated being away from Mozambique and all the street boys we minister to. But I know that God has purpose in it and that He will reveal those purposes to me in time. Until then, I continue to choose to walk with Him each day, trusting that He is in control. I will start my radiation treatments next Monday and when I complete them at the end of September, I will be on the first possible plane back to Mozambique!!!

In Mozambique, there are 2 other full time missionaries as well as 6 Mozambican staff members that I work with and they have done a wonderful job of carrying things in my absence. Since January, 8 boys have left their lives on the streets and returned home! Most of them spent a month living at our project prior to returning home where they were able to receive more in depth teaching on family as well as have a time to get used to having rules and responsibility again. There have also been around 15 street boys that have stayed for a few nights, as they’ve needed a place to recover from sickness or injury. The project continues to average around 30 street boys a day at our day-center. Those 30 boys are daily lavished in the love of the Father through the missionaries and workers and taught from the Word of God. Their basic needs are also met as they receive breakfast and lunch, are taught basic literacy education, and have a place to shower and wash their clothes.

As I prepare to return to Mozambique, I am doing my fundraising for 2012 since I won't return to the States til the end of next year. I have to raise around $23,000 for the year. If you are able to help, it would be much appreciated! All gifts are tax deductible. If you want to give online, you can do so at by clicking on “Mozambique – Sarah Olds.” Or you can mail a check made payable to Unveiled Faces with "Sarah Olds" on the memo line to: Unveiled Faces, PO Box 8235, Atlanta, GA 31106. If you are interested in giving on a monthly basis, please let me know and I’ll help get that set up.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support as I’ve battled this cancer. I truly believe that my experience with cancer – from surgery to chemo and hopefully radiation too – has been easier than expected because of the great cloud of witnesses I have surrounding me in prayer and encouragement.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Sorry for abandoning the blog. I have a CaringBridge site that I am using to post updates on my cancer treatment. You can access it by clicking here.

I am in regular contact with my housemates in Mozambique and things are going well with all the boys. I still miss them so much. When I finish chemo at the end of August, I will be able to go to Mozambique for a month before returning to start radiation. I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1 Down, 7 to Go

It's been almost 1 week since my first chemo treatment. It has been a hard week adjusting to the effects the drugs have had on my body. I've been nauseous most days. I'm exhausted and have to plan my days around being able to take a nap. I'm having to depend upon other people to take me places as I am too loopy to drive myself. All in all I I just don't feel like myself. But 1 down and only 7 more to go! Then I'll be able to return to Mozambique!!!

Here's what's been going on in Mozambique while I've been away:

Anselmo has gone home!

Aderito lived at our house for a month. He was the first boy I helped reintegrate when I started working with Masana in 2009.

Gildo has gone home!

My housemates got a new puppy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Worst Test Score Ever

Tuesday I got the test results back from my Oncotype. This test is designed to determine the likely hood of my cancer recurring. I got a 47. That puts me in the category of "high chance of reoccurrence." So not what I was expecting. What does this horrible test score mean? It means I have to undergo 4 months of chemo therapy. I will be starting in the next week or two.

I had my hopes set on being able to return to my beloved Mozambique in June. Instead, I am settling in for 7 more months worth of treatment (radiation after the chemo). I was tempted to opt out of chemo, complete my radiation, and return to Mozambique in June as I had planned it out in my head. But I received some wise counsel from one of my doctors that forced me to look past my immediate circumstances and into the future. . . that giving up a year of my life to fight this cancer will allow me years and years to continue my ministry in Mozambique or wherever God takes me.

If I'm learning anything through this battle with cancer, its that I'm not in control. I am very quick to come up with a plan A and B and sometimes even C. . . ready for whatever the doctor throws my way. Chemo was not in my plans. But I choose to trust in God. I trust that He will get me through this treatment. I trust that He will give me joy and strength.

Throughout this whole cancer thing, I've come back time and time again to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. After being removed from the furnace by the king, Daniel 3:27 says, "They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was the hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them." Will you join me in praying this verse as I begin chemo. Pray that the drugs will attack the cancer cells and not the rest of my body. . . that I will come out of this chemo unharmed.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It has been over 8 weeks since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And suddenly my life looks so different from anything I imagined. I miss Mozambique. I miss my beautiful boys. I miss being woken up at 6:00 in the morning as the littlest boys arrive, gushing with joy to see us. I miss being a part of restoring families as street kids choose to leave the streets and return to their families. I miss visits in the villages as we check in on boys who are beginning life back with their families. I miss 5:00 tea on the rooftop with my housemates. I even miss the frustrations of my life there....being ripped off at the market because I'm white or dealing with boys who steal from the very hands that care for them. I miss Paito's humor and Tilfo's quite strength. And oh how I miss sweet little Felix and that grin of his that could brighten any day.

It's hard to be content here when my heart is 8,643 miles away. I can't stop the tears when the doctor tells me it will be at least 2 more weeks before we have the test results back on my tumor and can make a decision about the next step in my treatment. And the tears really come as the doctor explains that, if chemo is necessary, it would be 3 or 4 months of treatment followed by a month and a half of radiation. My heart breaks at the thought of having to be away from Mozambique for that long. I find myself praying constantly for God's mercy that chemo will not be a part of my treatment.

And it's all selfish, these prayers of mine. Because I just want to be back in Mozambique...not because of the work that I have to do there or the decisions that need to be made at the project. Those things happen with our without me. No, I want to be back because its there that I feel most alive . . . sitting on the back porch helping Felix with his reading or walking to the pharmacy with yet another boy covered in sores or dishing up heaping servings of rice and beans for 35 boys.

They don't need me. I need them.

I have no doubt that I'll beat this cancer. I'm not afraid. I know that my God is good and will never leave me. I know that He promises to work all things together for good. I know that He has a plan for prosper me and not to harm me. I am confident in His love.

It's the waiting that is the hardest. Waiting to go home.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So the surgery is done! I went in on Wednesday and had a lumpectomy and a biopsy of lymph nodes. It was an out-patient procedure so I was back home by 7pm. And straight to bed. At first, the pain was pretty bad but its getting better now.

So now I get to sit here and recover because the sooner I recover, the sooner I can start radiation and the sooner I start radiation, the sooner I finish radiation and the sooner I finish radiation, the sooner I return to Mozambique! So what does recovery look like for me? Reading lots of books. Yesterday I read "Quaker Summer" by Lisa Samson. Today I'm starting the "Mark of the Lion" series by Francine Rivers. If you have any good book recommendations, pass them along!

I go back to the doctor on Tuesday. The doctor should have the results from my pathology by then. They are running tests on both the tumor and my lymph nodes. I hope to find out more about radiation as well and begin getting that set up.

Thanks for continuing to remember me in your prayers! Please pray for a speedy recovery from surgery.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I wanted to let you all know that I will be having surgery this Wednesday morning. I am having a lumpectomy which means the surgeon will remove the tumor. So far, it appears the cancer is located in one place which is great news! The tumor will be sent to a lab where a few tests will be run but as long as things come back as the doctor thinks they will, no chemo! Once the incision heals, I'll begin 5-7 weeks of radiation. I have been told that it takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks for the incision to heal and before radiation can begin. Praying its more on the 2-week side of things!!

As far as I know, the surgery is outpatient so I will be back at my parent's house Wednesday evening. Thanks for continuing to carry me in your prayers!

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Thing Remains

Lots of people have been checking in to see how the week went so here is a summary:

I had the MRI Wednesday. It went well and the radiologist says it looks positive. The cancer is centralized to one location. I went in thursday as well to redo the mammogram and ultra sound. I had had these done in South Africa but they were not sufficient. During this testing, they did an ultra sound of my lymph nodes and said that they don't see swelling there which is a good sign. The radiologist also inserted a clip into the tumor to help easily locate the tumor for surgery and/or chemo.

I have an appointment with the medical oncologist Wednesday of next week and then go in for genetic testing on Thursday. Then on the following Tuesday (April 5) I will meet with my doctor (surgical oncologist) again. It still feels so far away but I guess we are getting closer to having a plan for surgery and treatment.

Every time I leave the hospital, I find myself thinking "is this really happening?" It still feels surreal. I miss mozambique and my boys so much but am trying to find contentment in where God has me now. A song by Bethel has become my theme over the past weeks. It is called "One Thing Remains." The words say:

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant in the trial and the change
One thing... remains

Your love never fails, it never gives up
It never runs out on me

On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains

I don't know why I have to walk this road but I know that God is in control. I have no need to fear. I can trust in His love. It never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Just a quick post to let you know that I have an MRI on Wednesday at 9:00am. This will be to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else in my body. Once the results are in, I'll have an appointment with a medical oncologist and then I'll meet with my doctor (a surgical oncologist) again next Tuesday.

Finally feels like things are moving. Keep praying!

Friday, March 18, 2011

I'm A Charity Case!

My first days back in Georgia were a bit emotional. I went to Emory Hospital in Atlanta on Tuesday where I had an appointment with Dr. Rizzo who had been referred to me by a friend's father. The first news I received was that my insurance would not be accepted because my insurance company is outside of the USA. I cried. Here I was having gone back and forth with my insurance company for days trying to get approval to return to the States for treatment to be faced with the news that my insurance was no good. I would have to pay all expenses out of pocket and wait for them to be reimbursed. That's fine when we're talking one or two appointments but when we're talking surgeries and MRI's and radiation, not at all possible.

I went ahead and paid out of pocket for the appointment and saw the doctor. I really like her. She was very kind and broke everything down into simple terms. After discussing the financial situation with her, she stepped out to speak to her assistant. A few minutes later, her assistant returned and said that Dr. Rizzo had agreed to take me on as a charity case and, as long as all was approved by Emory Hospital, she would provide my treatment for free! Needless to say, i was thrilled with this news.

It took a couple of days to process my paperwork but I got a call this afternoon and I have been approved as a charity case! Tomorrow I hope to connect with Dr. Rizzo's assistant and get my MRI scheduled as well as the other testing she wants to do.

Though I am only a few weeks into this journey through cancer, I am already so aware of God's hand over me. He has already shown Himself so faithful as He has provided me with a flight home, free treatment, trusted friends in the medical field to offer their professional input, and countless friends and family all over the world praying for and encouraging me. I know there will be hard days ahead but I am choosing to trust in God's faithfulness and believe that He will see me through all that lies ahead. And that He will get me back to my boys in Mozambique ASAP!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I'm Going Home

My insurance company has agreed to cover my treatment in the States so I'll be returning Sunday. I arrive in Atlanta Monday morning and have my first doctors appointment at Emory on Tuesday afternoon. Nothing like hitting the ground running....but the sooner I get this whole process going, the sooner I can return to my precious boys in Mozambique!


Just as I am transitioning out of Mozambique for a time to deal with my recent diagnosis of breast cancer, here at Masana, our first boy has entered into our one-month transitional housing phase. This is a vision that has been in the development for over a year. In the past, when we have reintegrated street boys back with their families, we've often had to return time and time again to help families deal with basic problems involved with a street child relearning how to function as part of a family. Our vision for this one month is that the boy will live with us and receive in-depth teaching from Luis, one of the Mozambican men on our staff. During this time, Luis will spend solid chunks of time sitting and teaching the boy about family. The boy will live here with us during this time as well, allowing him to readjust to what it's like to be a part of a family.

So meet Lorenso!

For the next month, he will be a part of our family. Lorenso is 17 years old. He's been a part of Masana since I first started working here in 2009. Last year, he got into some trouble and ended up going to jail for 10 months. I remember being so worried about him last year when he just disappeared. I even made Luis go with me one day to the city jail to see if he was there. He was not so I assumed he had run off to South Africa. But one day a few weeks ago, he just showed up again. He had been released from jail that morning and Masana was the first place he came. On the street, the boys refer to jail as "faculdade" meaning college. It's the place where boys receive some hard life lessons. Lorenso came back from his time in "faculdade" ready to make some changes in his life.

We've already met with Lorenso's family and they are happy to receive him back. His mom was very excited about this time he'll have with us though and the lessons we'd be able to teach him about being a part of family.

So as I prepare to transition out of Masana for a few months, Lorenso will be here preparing for the transition back to his family. Pretty sad that I won't be here to be a part of his time in our family but excited to see him is in a few months time when I'm able to go visit him with his family!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Making Donations

I've been asked how people can give towards my medical care. I raise funds through an organization called Unveiled Faces. You can give online at or send a check made payable to Unveiled Faces with "Sarah Olds" on the memo line to:
Unveiled Faces
PO Box 8235
Atlanta GA 31106

Thank you for wanting to bless me as I walk this road ahead.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Medical Update

Today I had an appointment with a surgeon in Nelspruit, South Africa. If I continue care on this continent, he would be the one performing my next biopsy. However, my hope is to return to the States for that procedure. The more and more I research and learn about what lies ahead, I know that I want to be in the States where I have an abundance of family and friends around me. After discussing this with the doctor today, he agreed and wrote a report to my insurance company recommending that my further care be provided in America.

Please join me in praying that the insurance company responds quickly and in favor of returning to the States. They will handle booking my flight home. I'm not sure what percentage of my treatment they will cover yet but I have a feeling I'm going to need lots of favor with hospitals when it comes to discussing payment options.

Thank you all so much for the encouraging emails and messages you have sent. I truly believe that the peace I feel is because of all the prayers reaching heaven on my behalf.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Hard Post About A Harsh Reality

This is not the easiest blog post to write as no words seem to lessen the harshness of the reality I am facing. So I’ll just say it. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I received the call 1 week ago today from a doctor in South Africa. And suddenly my life here in Mozambique with my beautiful street boys is being put on hold as I deal with this disease. It makes me angry. Not at God because I know that God is for me and will lead me through this time. But it makes me angry at the enemy…that he found some way to take me away from the ministry that I love so dearly. But I am choosing to trust that my God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purposes and who love Him.

I am still making decisions about if and when to return to the States for treatment. I know that this is the best option but it is so hard to leave my boys. God has surrounded me with an amazing team of people who are working alongside me here so I know the ministry will continue on just fine and street boys will continue to leave the streets and return to their families. I just hate that I’ll have to miss out on it for a time.

Thank you to all of you who have sent encouraging emails in the last week. Please keep praying for me…that the cancer would be completely removed from my body. Believe with me that Jesus is the Healer of all disease!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Newest Family Member

Meet Tilfo!

As of this past weekend, he is the 3rd boy we've invited to leave his life on the streets and live with us. Taking in boys to live with us is not our norm as we very much have a heart to see the street boys reconciled to their families. But with Tilfo, Paito, and Felix, the 3 boys living with us, we feel like God has something special in store for them that me and my housemates are to be a part of.

We are not exactly sure how old Tilfo is. He thinks he is around 15. His documents say he is 19. I think 15 or 16 is a more accurate guess. Here in Mozambique, its common that a child will not have official birth documents so years down the road when someone has documents created, a birthdate is created. Both of Tilfo's parents passed away. He spent 7 years living at a children's center where he studied through the 7th grade. Tilfo left the children's center in 2009 and started living with an uncle and aunt. He encountered some problems in their home and decided to leave. That's when he started living on the streets and became a part of Masana.

Tilfo is an amazing young man. He is very gentle and patient. He is quick to help with anything that needs to be done. He's a talented soccer player and does very well in school. We are so excited to have him in our home and a part of our family. In the next few days, we'll arrange for him to study at a school near our house. We'll also be going to visit his aunt and uncle. This will be the first time that Tilfo has spoken to them since he left their home a year ago. Please keep Tilfo in your prayers as he settles in here, begins school, and starts the process of being reconciled with his family.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Back to School: Janario, Marcus, and Abrantis

Friday we visited 3 boys to make sure they were all set for school. It is rainy season here in Mozambique and it rained so much on Thursday that we had to cancel our visits. So we are a bit behind schedule and having to squeeze more into each day. The rain also makes for interesting driving in the villages around Maputo! I drove through some pretty deep holes/ditches full of water. And I'm no expert on driving in these type of conditions so i just choose a side and drive! Thankfully God protected my car!!!

We were able to get Janario all set to study in grade 3. He is 11 years old and has been off the streets since June. Next was Marcus who is 14 and also returned home in June. He'll be studying in grade 5. Finally was Abrantis...whom I affectionately call "Malouco" (crazy person). Abrantis is 15 and has been home since last February. My first year working at Masana, Abrantis was one of the boys I was closest to. He would wash my car for me every week. Every sunday, he would bring a bag of frozen food to my house and ask to heat it up. He brought me a pet bird named Sarina and then took me on a bird hunt to show me how to catch birds. We had a special bond! Since he went home, he's twice taken me and some friends to a small, almost deserted island near his families house. He's a great kid! This year he'll be studying in the 6th grade.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Back to School: Matusse

Matusse’s real name is Sadik. Many of the boys make up names for themselves when they begin living on the street so that they don’t have to reveal their true identity to others. When we reintegrated Matusse with his father back in November, we learned his real name. Matusse is 14 years old. He’ll be studying in the 5th grade this year.

Matusse has had a hard time since he returned home. Just before Christmas, he got into trouble and his father kicked him out of the house. On today’s visit, when we should have been focusing on Matusse’s school registration, we were sorting through this family dispute. We had a 4 hour meeting with Matusse, his father, his sister, his stepmother, and the chief of their village. Matusse’s father was trying to forbid his son from living with his sister as well. So the chief of the village intervened to mediate through the dispute. In the end, Matusse’s father was forced to give Matusse all of the things we had purchased for him (clothes, blankets, and a small business) and grant his son permission to live with other family members. The ending was good but it was a frustrating situation. I’ll never understand how a father can kick his son out rather than forgive him for his error. Please keep Matusse in your prayers as he adjusts to living with his older sister. His father lives very close to this sister so there is still hope for their relationship to be restored.

Back to School: Gito

Gito is 16 years old. He returned home in May, 2010. He lives with his father and stepmother. Gito truly lives in the “bush!” To get to his house, we drive about an house, most of which is on a dirt road. Then we turn off the dirt road onto a road that isn’t really much of a road but more of a path with really overgrown grass between fields of corn. We drive as far as we can and then walk the last 10 or 15 minutes to Gito’s house.

Last year, Gito completed the adult literacy program and passed his 5th grade exam. He will be studying in the 6th grade this year. Unfortunately, Gito lost the document saying he passed that exam so we’ll have to return to his old school and get a new one before we can complete his registration. Sometimes the registration process can be quite time consuming. For many Mozambican families, this is a deterrent because it costs money in transport and fees to get these documents and they just don’t have the extra money. So this becomes one way that Masana is able to bless these boys and their families!

Back to School

January marks the beginning of a new school year here in Mozambique. The couple of weeks leading up to the first day of classes is when all of the kids register for their grade. Sadly, some kids have families that don’t really place a high value on education and these kids end up not attending school. At Masana, we believe that education is very important. When we reintegrate a boy back with his family, we commit to paying all school fees and buying school materials for at least a year. That means that, during this 2 week period in January, we visit all of the boys that we’ve reintegrated in the previous year. It’s a lot of work but its so worth it because it gives us a chance to check in with all of the boys and their families and see how they are getting along.

So over the next 7 days we’ll visit Gito, Matusse, Reginaldo, Marcos, Fred, Semera, Abrantis, Juma, Janario, Luis, Paito, Fabiao, Manuel, and Pai. Stories to follow!