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Dusty Shoes and a Copper Ring

A Jon Post

Here I am again sitting on this worn green bench in the shade of a 6:30 AM pre-summer morning. “Oncology Service” hangs written in red block letters on the large sign hanging above the door, announcing in stark honesty the tools used to hold back tides of uncontrolled, malignant cell division.

I’ve spent more hours in these halls than I can count.

Here weariness lays on beds like thin white sheets, bleached and stretched and covering sick bodies in its embrace.

Here joy is eked out like a spoon of sugar in morning tea poured in to cover the bitterness of the dark, hot liquid, but as of late, too often forgone because there is just not enough in this hospital to go around.

Here tears are the dusty shoes we walk around in… ignored, expected, necessary to walk these corridors of pain and medicine.

This morning those shoes are worn by an old man in a thin blue windbreaker. The morning is murderously hot and humid but he clutches his windbreaker tight against his back, pulling it taught around his heaving shoulders.

Today he wears these tired shoes along with the large copper wedding ring on the hand he is using to wipe away his own unrelenting tears.

The woman for whom he wears that ring had lain in a bed here in this Oncology Service under her thin, bleached weariness for the last several weeks trying to find some sugar to flavor her tea.

This morning the hours I’ve spent here lay heavy on me.

Psalm 56:8I’ve seen so many Creator-image-bearers wear those dusty shoes that I’ve forgotten how precious they are in His sight.

This morning the Angel of Death stung the wife of the image-bearer and he put on his shoes and wept.

I’ve seen those shoes walk these halls often, even worn them myself many times.

But I’d forgotten their worth.

Now a copper ring, because cancer comes to the copper wearers more often than the gold and platinum wearers, shines bright on a shaking finger.

A husband weeps on a rickety green bench for a wife stung by the reason creation groans for redemption. The Angel of Death came for the copper-wearer’s wife and offered him those dusty shoes to help walk these grey halls of pain. And I sit in witness of the shoe-wearer.

Too often I’ve forgotten how valuable those shoes are. I’ve forgotten my Savior wore them often. He wore them when he heard his friend died. He wore them when he prayed in a garden. He wore them when he walked up a hill.

We have His promise that he’ll take those shoes and burn them one day. But until then, they can help us walk these halls.

Updates

A Layne Post
img_9865Our Annabella has gone home to her two boys.
I miss her.
I miss playing hopscotch and singing kids songs, yelling “Meow!” at the end and laughing together. I miss her quick hands playing the equivalent of Jacks with stones. She was patient with my uncoordinated swipes and encouraging despite little improvement.
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I don’t miss her moaning because of mouth sores, or seeing her throw her head back and wince to swallow a sip of water. I don’t miss seeing her sip porridge because nothing else would go down. I am thankful the side effects to Chemo will fade, but we know the tumor will grow. Pray for the days ahead. Pray that she will be able to maintain some physical comfort. Pray for sweet memories with those she holds dear. Pray for a undeniable presence of Jesus, our Comforter.

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img_1141We also received news that Guedez, who was with us for the better part of last year, passed away in July. His brother has been out of the country, which is why he hadn’t been answering our phone calls. We had suspected his death, but the confirmation has allowed for some closure in our hearts. We loved him dearly. He won over everyone he encountered. Seriously, heart of gold. His smile and laugh were absolutely contagious. He suffered a long, long time. I pray he now knows a wholeness he never imagined possible.

Our patient Judite received news that she needs more rounds of Chemo. It was not the news we hoped for, but we are encouraged by the way her body is responding. Pray with us that the next couple of cycles are effective in ridding her body of cancer. Pray for strength of heart as she forges ahead. She has Chemo this week. A specific request is that they will be able to find veins to administer the drip. Her veins are so burnt up they struggle even to draw blood and she usually endures so many pricks.

Another patient, Falgeira, found out that her home up north was robbed and everything was taken. Pray for comfort and peace of mind and heart. Pray for justice. Pray that Jon and I know how to love and support her well in this.

As for happy news, the house is coming along so well and so fast. The Lord and His mercies have been astounding. We are humbled and desire that He receives all glory. We look forward to the unfolding of plans the Lord has for this property.

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Our Family Home + Hospice/Guest area

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New half of Casa Ahava

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Casa Ahava! (as best can fit in the picture)

Thanks for loving and praying with us. We really do cherish your support.

Don’t forget to check the “Pray” section of our website. It is updated each time we post here. Please feel free to ask us to pray for you as well.

On Our Couch

A Jon Post

She plays with my daughters in our backyard like they are her own children. Her smile and laugh are infectious, her joy bubbles out of her like a champagne glass.

And she’s dying.

She’s been away from her 18 year old son for 9 months and she is desperately tired of chemotherapy. Last week, when confronted with 2 more days of a 3 day course of chemotherapy, she lay on her bed and wept bitter tears on her pillow, tired and angry at her body for its betrayal and frailty.

Layne and I argued back and forth on whether we should counsel her to continue with her treatment or not, whether to hope for reduction in tumor size, or to forgo the torture that is fluorouracil and cisplatin dripped into her veins.

And we sat with her on our couch and held her hand and wept together. We explained in Portuguese and our partner and friend, Pedro, explained in Nyumbwe, her first language. We spoke about hope, about what chemo may be able to accomplish, we spoke about pain, about how her tumor will grow and close airways, and we spoke about Christ, who weeps with us and who knows what it means to pray for suffering to be taken away and to have the Father say no.

Anabela

 

Anabela sat silent. Her emotions wrecked, her heart exhausted, she wearily told us she’d try to keep doing chemo and hope her tumor recedes.

Oh, how I miss her smile; crooked and sloping up a little more on the right than the left. When she laughs, her head is thrown back, her whole body dances, and her spirit thrusts joy out of every pore.

She sleeps little due to a persistent cough that whispers of dangerous metastases. She cannot open her mouth wide because of a painful jaw and masseter muscle, both already deteriorating from the invasive tumor.

But she still smiles.

And we pray with her that she doesn’t stop.

Cancer and pain can take so much. They try to rob everything that is a person. The Bible talks about a thief who comes to steal and destroy. A thief who attempts to strip a person of hope, of joy, of peace, who wants to destroy dignity, trust, and any reason to smile. But we know One who came to give life to the full. Casa Ahavá is simply trying to be

a place where that One can sit with beloved daughters like Anabela.

So come, oh Life Giver. Come and sit with your precious daughter who sobs into her pillow because she is in so much pain. Come hold her close as she coughs dry lungs into a washcloth. Come rub tired and painful feet and swollen hands as she recovers from 5FU chemotherapy symptoms.

Casa Ahavá is pointless and a chasing after the wind without You here.

Come, Life Giver. 

The Process of Building

A Layne Post

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It is happening, guys. The Lord has been so amazing in each step of this. He has led us to the perfect contractor, even if it happened at the last minute through an off-guard switcheroo. After a week of working together, he was the guy for us. He loves the Lord, he loves a job done well, and he loves a job done fast. His team is incredibility hard working. These pictures are after 1 week of work! We decided to buy and manage materials ourselves to save some money. It has been a big job, mainly for Jon, but the Lord is equipping him well. Three local vendors have caught the vision and provided us discounts. Lord willing, the builder is planning to hand us keys sometime in December! Please keep praying for the project, that the Lord’s favor would remain on it, that the spirit of the Lord would, even now, inhabit that property.

And that is not the only building we are doing. We are busy in the process of building relationships, building trust, building faith…

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We currently have five delightful women living with us. There is always a bit of settling in and getting used to day-to-day life together, but it seems we have hit our stride. The girls always take a little time to warm up, but each day I have been hearing Anaya, Jovie, and Karasi greet their Tias in Portuguese without my prompting. And just yesterday Selah seemed to finally befriend her Tias. It was a lazy afternoon lounging in the grass, laughing, and playing games. It brings my heart such joy and fulfillment to see our patients take delight in our children and their play.

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Selah is ready to drain a coconut, using the Mozambican ralo. (The ladies loved this picture)

I am so thankful for this season. It is busy, full, and in moments a bit overwhelming; however, I constantly reminded of my inability to control things or do things well on my own. In response, I am attempting regular surrender and an intentional walking by faith. Guess what I’ve found? Peace. Peace in the midst of contractor changing, budget changing, schedules changing.

Thanks for praying with us, dreaming with us, supporting us. God is working here, and I’m humbled you and I can be a part.

 

The Work is Not Yet Finished

A Jon Post

I met a young mother in the hospital last week. I was there preparing to bring four OTHER women into Casa Ahavá and one of the oncologists pulled me into the conference room and told me about this woman with breast cancer.

“Can you take her too?” asked the oncologist.

“I’ve no space” came my tired and overused reply.

But I found myself walking the hallway to this young mother’s room anyway. I found myself at the foot of her bed, opening her file, seeing the familiar doctor scrawl across the “diagnosis” line, and feeling the familiar drop in my chest as I read what I already knew;

Breast cancer.

She was on the phone with her daughter when I came in.

Her daughter is 7 years old.

I heard the joy and pain in her voice as she asked how her daughter was doing in school and if she was obeying her grandmother. I heard her end the phone call with the tired lie “I will be home soon.”

I asked her about her daughter she immediately told me of her wonderful little girl and how much she misses her. How long it’s been since she was with her and how important it is for her to be in her school.

Unspoken but understood was the fear that she may not see her daughter again.

Unspoken but understood was the resignation to the pain of chemotherapy and its unrelenting assault on a body already broken by cancer.

Now she sits in front of me in a hospital bed, pleading for mercy and a bed in my home and I tell her, “Wait, sister. Wait. The work is not yet finished.”

Riverbeds carved in flesh from tears and the secretions of necrotic wounds mark her cheeks and her side, and she nods her head in understanding.

She will endure.

She will wait.

She has no other options.

Her far away home offers witchcraft and lies as a cures for splitting DNA and cells with too many nuclei that multiply and multiply and poison her blood and her lymphatic system. Witchcraft chants and smelly herbs in a dark mud hut and a man dressed in traditional clothing promised her the mass of tissue swelling in her breast would reduce and she gave him her money and her soul and she left feeling empty and used.

Here at the hospital a combination of Fluorouracil, Cisplatin, and pain drip into her swollen forearm. They promise tumor reduction, dead DNA strands, halted cell division, nausea, Nephrotoxicity, loneliness, depression, and homesickness.

“Wait, sister. Wait. The work is not yet finished.”

I stare at my hands after I’ve uttered those words and wonder if there can be any comfort in them.

I have four women staying in my home and I’ve promised beds to two others.

And this sister looks at me and asks for rescue from the bed she sits on. Rescue from a bed covered in old white sheets, stained with blood, vomit and emotions.

“We are building a home for you my sister.”

Next week we will open the ground of our 40×45 meter square of dirt and begin laying sand, stones, and concrete into it so that this dear sister can come and live here too.

Last week we invited four women out of the hospital into Casa Ahavá and I met 4 others whom I could not invite.

We are building a home. I hope it finishes soon.