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Much to Say

A Jon Post

There is much to say and much to show.

I worry that we’ve lost many who may have read this blog and prayed for us over the last many years because we have nearly stopped updating here. There are few things I regret more than our loss of consistent communication with so many.

While we have been so unfaithful in writing here, so many of you have continued to show your faithfulness in prayer, words of encouragement, and support over these many years. We have said it many times before, but we are so proud to be a part of the Kingdom of God. You show us always how wonderful a family it is.

2018 has come fully into its own here at Casa Ahavá. As many of you know, our precious Irene walked her final steps on earth last month. Her journey of cancer ended in her bed at Casa Ahavá. When she arrived to live with us in May of last year, we expected 4-5 months of life at best. When she visited her family in July and called us panicked and in pain, we rushed to bring her back and expected only weeks. It is a testimony to the grace of God and His favor on Casa Ahavá that she stayed alive through the end of the year, was able to spend Christmas and New Year’s Day with her daughters and was able to return here to Casa Ahavá to spend her last days. The December month was such a dream of hers to reach. Her heart was satisfied by her time with her 3 small girls and she returned to stay with us with a smile. Her last day had little pain, she was able to see the sunshine, speak with our daughters and then went to spend her final hours doing the hard work it is to die well. She endured the pain of metastatic breast cancer and, after some hours of that struggle, laid down and stopped. She finished. It is well.

We have 4 other women at Casa Ahavá. Three, Joana, Isabel, and Isaura, carried over from last year and one, Ana, has just arrived last week. Joana, Isabel, and Isaura all continue to make our hearts smile each day. We are looking to schedule a surgery for Joana soon with hope that she recovers quickly. Isabel has finished her treatments and we rejoice with her that she will be reuniting with her family within the next few weeks. Isaura has struggled with her health and we are praying with her that her body respond well to treatment and, if not, that we see clearly how we can best walk with her through that. Ana speaks almost no Portuguese so we are left to practice the little bit of Ndão (her language) we know and smile and gesture and laugh with her. Pedro speaks Ndão well so he has been invaluable to Casa Ahavá in helping Ana feel welcome.

There are two men here as well. Armindo and Guerra. I’ve been able to play some checkers and even installed an outdoor speaker and music system in our thatch area where we can sit in the shade and listen to current events and music. It always makes me smile to see them relaxing there and enjoying the outdoor breeze.

Last week all four of our daughters and I (Jon) got the flu together and we are working hard to recover from that. It has been a frustrating many days of staying inside away from all of our patients where a flu infection could be serious and even life-threatening. Selah, especially, loves to go see her “tias” (Portuguese word for Aunties) and even wandered out there a couple days ago while we weren’t looking. It is hard to keep away from everyone but we don’t want to bring unnecessary risk to our patients’ health.

We continue to look for ways to best serve our patients and make Casa Ahavá more a home. We continue to look for ways to bring Christ into this family and focus on His kingdom instead of our own.

Thanks for being there with us through all of this.

Reflecting on 2017

Layne Post

As the year comes to an end and I reflect on 2017, I think of the extremes the this year held. My heart swells and aches as the memories pass.

The first half of the year was finishing the construction of our new home and place of ministry. It was stressful and busy, yet full of excitement and anticipation. A vision begun some three years prior was being birthed before our eyes! We had a handful of ladies with us, but our hospital ministry felt slow as the new house demanded so much attention. In reflection, the months feel like a blur; they went fast and furious and just like that we were living in new place. Now, it is difficult to imagine that we’ve only been in our home around 7 months, being that we feel so deeply settled. What grace!

Towards the end of May we received our first round of new patients at the new place. I remember being briefed on a lady named Irene and feeling a bit concerned about the care she might require. When Jon pulled up with the car full of ladies the girls and I went out to greet them; it felt good to see the rooms fill up, a vision become reality. Irene seemed to make regular improvements and the house felt abuzz with life and community, including disagreements and conflict, but balanced with laughter and song. God’s grace was evident, and our hearts overflowing.

August brought with it suffering and a heaviness of spirit. One of our patients passed away suddenly, which shook our community to the core. We received multiple terminal diagnoses for multiple patients and the weight of it all seemed to hover. Irene had taken a turn for the worse after a short trip to her home up north and now her condition demanded more than we had ever given. We felt wearied as the days passed slowly. God’s grace was sufficient, though at times it felt only moment by moment.

The following months could best be described as a roller coaster, mainly in our care for Irene. Our lives felt lived hour by hour, never knowing what the future held. It was unsettling, disruptive, and painful. We found strength and endurance we could not have fathomed possible in the quiet, consistent pursuit of a Savior who bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19) We learned to find peace in a Person, not a circumstance. (Ephesians 2:14) And we learned to be still, knowing He is God, and we are not. (Psalm 46:10) We attempted the best care we could offer to the other patients, as well as being parents to our precious littles. In hindsight, I am able to see there was truly grace for all.

December has brought with it such unexpected refreshing. Irene has been thriving at home with her children, bringing such peace to our hearts, while most of our other patients were able to get home to their families for a short time to celebrate. We have had the sweetest time just being with our own children and with each other. Sitting here reflecting on the last three weeks is a bit overwhelming looking at the lavish grace of a Good Father, who knew exactly what we needed. Who could have thought that we would enter 2018 with such full spirits and souls? Praise be to our Father!

 

From our depths, we thank you for your continued love and support. We are so very grateful.

Daily Bread

A Jon Post

Kiss

Is this what starting a ministry is supposed to feel like? My wife and I left the United States 8 years ago (November, 2009) to come here. I still have to pinch myself and make sure I feel all of this and not slip into the daily exercise of bare minimum missions.

 

Each day up early to administer medicine.

Each day in the car driving to the Central Hospital to coordinate with docs, patients, blood labs, radiology departments, and others.

Each day the administrative nit picks of property ownership, non-profit registration, ministry accounting, employee taxes, and bills to pay (personal and ministry).

And none of that feeds me.

…Give us this day our daily bread…

Each day when I wake up (after administering medicine to a strictly regimented hour), I pray a prayer Jesus taught me and repeat the words He gave me;

…Give us this day our daily bread…

I pray for daily bread knowing it’s so much more than flour, water, yeast and sugar mixed and baked.

The daily bread Jesus told me to ask for must mean more than that.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta wrote often about needing bread and water from her precious Jesus. She wrote about how much she hungered for something more than flour, water, yeast and sugar.

…Give us this day our daily bread…

When I feel the “each days” start to weigh on my soul…

When I begin to succumb to bare minimum missions…

When I’d rather stare in silence at the road than engage with my patient about Jesus…

When I’d rather sit on my couch than go wash a car with an old man recovering from cancer and asking me for a bucket and soap to do it himself…

…Give us this day our daily bread…

My soul cries out to a Merciful God whose mercies rise new each day with the sunrise.

…Give us this day our daily bread…

And it is there.

Maybe not enough to gorge myself or to become overfilled with its abundance.

But enough.

Saint John of the Cross wrote about the winnowing of the soul that the Holy Spirit wills for those He loves. He talked about the plant that grows on the dry and windy mountainside being stronger and more resistant than the lush green stalks that flourish in the soft soil next to the river. When the roots of each are put to the test, the plant in the arid and harsh places with little to no sustenance is the one with the deep and strong roots.

So when His mercies are doled out sparingly, I must remember that craggy and ugly plant growing on the side of a lonely mountain.

I was never called to be beautiful or to look fresh and lush and draw eyes to myself.

I am no water lily filled to the brim with all that is needed for its decorations.

But maybe I can learn to be a short and hardy Rocky Mountain Juniper, surviving in dry places and putting roots deep enough to find the mercy of God where there seem to be only high and hard things.

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Maybe I can find my daily bread in those places.

I truly think so.

Picture Update on Casa Ahavá

A Layne Post

Casa Ahavá currently has 7 patients with one more lady coming on Monday! I will give you more info to come, but for now at least you can see them. Thanks for your patience, as we’ve been behind on our updates. Life has felt particularly busy and overwhelming. We cherish you prayers and support!

 Isaura

 Joana

 Isabel

 Irene

 Eugenio

 Custodio

 Torres

 

Group Photo: Joana, Irene, Isabel, Isaura, Eugenio, Jon, Cutodio, Torres, Pedro (our team mate)

Jon and I recently celebrated our birthdays and our patients blessed us so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carpenter

A Jon Post

I don’t think of a person’s soul as see-through.
I think of it like lumber.
Some is hard, some soft. Some is flexible, some splinter and crack under strain.
But I can’t usually see through it.
Watching what cancer does to a person reveals the lie that a soul cannot be torn so thin it can be transparent and bare.
Cancer does not work with a soul the way a saw works with lumber. There are no quick clean cuts, no straight edges.
Cancer scrapes along a person’s soul the way a hand plane pulls ribbons from a pine plank.
Irene arrived in our home 4 months ago and I’ve witnessed ribbon upon see-through ribbon be planed from her person by this disease.
You would be so proud of my wife and the 24 hour care she lavishes on our precious Irene.
When the hand plane of cancer stripped Irene of her ability to walk more than 20 feet without stopping to catch her breath, Layne was there to hold her upright and wrap her in arms of love.
When Irene’s lesion on her jaw clamped her teeth shut and refused her the ability to eat normal food, Layne was there to endlessly prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner in unceasing variety, all liquefied and made edible for Irene’s handicapped state.
When Irene began losing vision due to tumors and lesions in her brain, Layne was there to spend the hours it took for swelling to subside and vision to return.
When the hand plane passed again over Irene’s ability to take her medication and morphine, Layne faithfully ensured that to the minute her 24-hour medication needs were met.
When Irene’s pain management required hours and hours by her side praying, talking to her to get her mind off the agony, and holding her hand through mind-numbing suffering.
You would be so proud.
And you would marvel at how thin a person can be shredded by this disease.
Maybe to a carpenter this all makes sense. But to the lumber it just hurts.
It’s easy to tell the lumber that in the end, it is made beautiful, but that don’t seem to matter down here.
Ribbons of transparent soul keep shedding from our precious Irene.
Please pray that the carpenter finishes His work soon.