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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.

News Around Here

A Layne Post

If you guys went to visit our last blog post, you noticed the new look to our website. You may or may not have noticed all the new features, so I am going to highlight a couple for you. The main changes are under the “Pray” section. There are five options. Our hope is that you will be able to feel more connected as a team member and be able to pray more effectively for our project and our patients. Under the option “Pray for a Patient” we will weekly highlight a specific patient and their current needs, sometime even past patients that we remain connected with in their homes. Under the option “Pray for Our Family” we will post personal prayer needs for Jon and me and the girls. Under the option “Pray for Casa Ahavá” we will keep updated which patients are living with us, their needs, and needs within their little community. There is also an option “Ask Us to Pray for You”. We hope you’ll take advantage of this one. It is an opportunity for us to stay connected with YOU and your life and needs. It is an honor for us to be a part in such a way. The last option is super cool. it is the “30 Day Prayer Guide”. It is a static guide that doesn’t change, but gives you daily focus points to pray along side us. So, look around! Take part!

We also have some huge news! We have been wading through the process of getting our building permit here. For various, very normal reasons, things were moving slow. The paper process is just a slow one here and we knew that going into this. The Lord had really brought peace to our hearts, Our Projectknowing He had perfect timing for the expansion of Casa Ahavá. Then out of nowhere, God connected Jon with the right people at the municipality and things began to move. When I say move, I mean fly! One specific engineer liked the vision of the project, took it under her wing, and personally made it her mission to get us to where we are today – our project and all it’s plans (topographical plans, architectural and structural plans, building estimate, etc) are officially submitted and awaiting our permit. We have been warned this process could take from two weeks to one year. But do you know what? The connection God made… is one of the two people who approve the project for building. She said our permit will be out this week! Our contractor is ready to start Monday! In reality, it may take a few more days, but it is absolutely amazing! To God be the glory. The project is estimated to finish in 8 months. Please pray with us that Gods hand remains on every step. These time frames are, of course, not guarantees, but we hope and pray that they are realities.

Future BedsIn other news, our family is making a quick trip to South Africa this weekend to gather supplies for Casa Ahavá to officially reopen next week and to spend some time with dear friends to refresh our souls and prepare for the busy exciting season ahead. We are making some changes around Casa Ahavá, too. We are getting rid of our queen and double mattresses and getting all twins, creating space for 6 patients. Jon is busy this week making the 6 bed frames and drawers that will come with us to the new house. It is a small increase, from 4 to 6, but will give us a little glimpse into life serving more. Pray with us about which patients will come to live with us, as there are more than we can house waiting at the hospital.

Casa Ahavá VanAnd while everything is changing, so are our vehicles! We found out a bit before going to the States that the van we had been driving required a special license; it is twelve passenger van. We were initially told otherwise, but alas, it is true, our licenses do not cover above 9 passengers. We bought the van before we knew we were expanding with the idea that we could fit our entire family plus patients. With the expansion, however, this just isn’t possible. So, after talking with the Voices of the World board, we decided we should downsize and then buy a 3rd vehicle, one specifically for Casa Ahavá. We were able to buy locally a van equipped with a handicap chair, which will be awesome for our project. We are also in the process of ordering a family van and importing from Japan. We hope to be able to sell the twelves passenger van for near the same price of the two new vans put together. God is good!

Our hearts are anxious and ready for the next phase. Our girls are ready for new Tias and Tios (Aunties and Uncles) to join us. Anaya has been drawing up her own house plans, which always includes space for our patients. I love that they get to be a part of this with us!

Anaya    Jovie

Karasi  Selah

 

 

 

 

Starting Over

A Jon Post

Starting

Starting

Part of my job is starting things.

I’ve started a ministry. I’ve started a family. I’ve started a home for cancer patients. I’ve started mountains of paperwork. I’ve started a non-profit in Mozambique. I’ve started a 16 hour plane ride with 4 children. I’ve started a set of shelves for my living room. I’ve started reading a book.

Part of my job is seeing things to an end.

Starting AgainI’ve seen that book to an end. I’ve seen my baby-making days to an end. I’ve seen airplane rides come to an end. I’ve seen treatment for cancer come to an end. I’ve seen lives of those cancer patients come to an end.

Now I’m back home after 3 months in the USA and it’s time to start something again.

When we went on the first of our many plane rides back in March, I had to see the doors of Casa Ahavá close because we had no one to care for the patients while we were gone.

Now we’re home and ready to start again.

We have a half an acre. We have building plans. We have the resources to build Casa Ahavá anew and be a home to 12 instead of just 4. We are just waiting on Mozambique and her municipal leaders to give us the green light and we will put shovels in the ground.

We are ready.

Casa AhavaUntil then, we keep serving our King. Until then we are a home to the 4 we can fit.

This is the Kingdom of God at work. This is the Body of Christ intent on being unified across oceans. This is my job as part of that glorious bride.

What an honor.