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Heart Change

A Layne Post

I am sorry for our lack of writing. This morning I actually feel like I have time. One of my children gave an early wake up call by wetting the bed, so it is 5:55am and let’s just say, I’ve flat ironed my hair, done the dishes, had my coffee… I’ve been up awhile. And I sit here on my couch with only the hum of my air conditioner (Because it is hot y’all. At 5:55am.), and I am reflecting on the goodness of God  in the midst of suffering, and His desire for me to love those around me out of brokenness and humility. I am thinking about the changing of heart He’s been working in me, the warming of a heart that had become a little cold.

Last week one of our patient’s 5 year old daughter died, about one month after her mother died. Then our dog of 5+ years died. Then some stomach pains that have been an issue for me decided to give me problems. Then one of our patients had to start taking an opioid for pain after being pain free for months, this was one day after Jon and I were talking together and praising the Lord for the miracle He’d been doing in him. Then we got news that our patient, who was home to bury her daughter, had come down with vomiting and diarrhea and was in the hospital herself and would miss her next round of Chemo. One of our challenging patients, who had gone home for a period, came back to perform some tests and will stay with us awhile. This week we had some surprising complications with paperwork.

Last week I cried a lot. I felt beat down. Tired. Empty.

But I was not crushed.

2 Corinthians 4: 7-12

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned;struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

There is a beautiful mystery of this walk with God, that when you stop fighting death and pain, then life sneaks in. The life of Jesus.

My devotional book “Humility and Absolute Surrender” by Andrew Murray has been saying things like, “Where the spirit of love is shed abroad in the heart, where divine nature comes to a full birth, where Christ, the meek and lowly Lamb of God, is truly formed within, there is given the power of a perfect love that forget itself and finds its blessedness in blessing others, in bearing with them and honoring them, however feeble they may be. Where love enters, there God enters.”

And so in my emptiness, Jesus came in and love began to stir up, a desire to bless again. Bless with my heart and not just my actions.

Please pray for us, as our hearts and emotions are easily wearied. Pray for us to know the love of God ourselves, so we can most effectively minister it to others. We so appreciate your support.

Merry Christmas!

A Layne Post

Merry Christmas from Mozambique

Merry Christmas from Mozambique!

I had great plans of getting a card in the mail, but something about the addition of a fourth baby has made my life, well, a bit less organized. We did manage to take a couple photos, which made me feel accomplished. This year you can print them out and maybe next year I’ll print it for you! ;)

IMAG1437

We also stumbled into tradition six years ago, even before we had children, of visiting our friends at the hospital who are unfortunate enough to have to spend Christmas day in Oncology. We take a simple mango and soft drink (Coke, Sprite and Fanta) and hand it out with a smile. It isn’t super spiritual. It isn’t super grand. It is just remembering those who are less fortunate than us and it is an effort to let them know they aren’t forgotten.

Since having children it has been a cool opportunity for my girls, and they are really able to get into it, as it requires only a simple “Feliz Natal!” and a handing over of a small gift. The patients adore their precious faces… and I do too!

 

As I reflect on 2015 and look towards 2016, I am filled with gratitude and excitement. Jon is still my partner in adventure and love of my life. He brings stability to my crazy. We added our fourth child, Selah, who is our last natural-born. What a delight she is! Our babies are growing into beautiful individualistic girls and I am head-over-heels for each one. We established Voices of the World Mozambique as a Non-Government-Organization here. We purchased property to build and expand our project from 4 patients to 12. Praise the Lord!

Thanks for joining us in this journey and holding us up in the special ways each of you do. We are so happy we aren’t alone in this.

May we each impart some peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Broken to be Given

A Jon Post

Where did we go? We used to post far more often here. We used to update anyone who happened across this little blog on an almost weekly basis about our lives and the ministry Christ placed us in, here in Maputo.

So what happened? Why the extended times between posts? Why so little substance in the recent posts?

It turns out we are still broken. We are struggling to learn how to do this. We still find ourselves approaching the end of most of our days clawing towards a fitful rest, wondering if we have the strength to do this again tomorrow. We are not trained doctors, nurses, psychologists, or counselors. We’re just a family trying to offer a home to those without one. We’re just a family trying to offer love and comfort to many who lack both.

It’s tough some times.

About 2 months ago, one of our patients died in my arms.

Broken.

Her metastatic throat cancer sent its dark tendrils into her lungs and pulled her breath from her body. Dear Momma Berta held me close, told me goodbye, and slipped home.

 

About 2 months ago Papa Gary and Ms. Janet in Texas, gave deeply from the bit the Lord trusted them with, and funded the purchasing of more than a half acre of land and the construction of a new home for Casa Ahavá.

Given.

We’ve begun the process to design and build Casa Ahavá from the ground up as a temple to Christ and a home for the sick and dying.

 

About 2 months ago, one of our patients writhed in pain as his tumor pressed sharply on sensitive nerves in his head and eye.

Broken.

He spent a week barely conscious, calling out for his mother and grandmother, terrified of a painful death.

 

Layne and I spent that week trading shifts with him making sure that one of us was with him 24 hours per day.

Given.

We slept in the room with him, administered morphine, sang worship songs over him, read scripture to him, and prayed deeply to a Merciful God that there would be peace. In His overwhelming mercy, the Lord brought him back from his pain and today, he is talking of visiting his family over Christmas/New Year then returning to continue his treatment.

 

About 5 months ago, we welcomed a patient to Casa Ahavá whose brokenness in her family begat bitterness in her heart and who lives now with a physical cancer to match the emotional one that cripples her spirit.

Broken.

Despite our frail attempts to love her and offer her a home and a family, she often spurns love and chooses loneliness and heartache.

 

Now she approaches the end of her treatment and time at Casa Ahavá and our hope to see Christ’s redemption transform her heart is sinfully weak. In our own brokenness we find it’s easier to choose anger rather than forgiveness, to choose indifference rather than love, to choose clean detachment rather than messy engagement.

Broken.

We are still struggling to learn how to do all of this.

 

Smiles

Smiles

I wish I could say that we are wonderful missionaries representing Christ perfectly to all those with whom we meet, offering only love and bright eyes to the broken and downtrodden.
But I can’t.
In our own brokenness we forget our Great King and choose selfishness over others.
But a great teacher and pastor once wrote that here, in the life of the Beloved, we are broken in order to be given. Our lives and our deaths are the greatest gifts we have to offer, even though both come through a great deal of brokenness.

Just as our Savior took bread…
Broke it.
And Gave it.

So we can choose to be a gift even as we are broken.
That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we’re trying to learn as we wipe fevered brows, hold writhing hands, soothe wounded hearts, and smile tired smiles.

When Service is a Struggle

A Layne Post

I love what we do. I am a people person.

I love the people that have come into our lives and stolen our hearts.

I love the diversity we have seen over the years.

I love the ones with whom we had that instantaneous connection. Ones we liked from our first introduction.

I love the ones that grew on me as the weeks went on, that slowly opened up to trust and let us in.

But there are some others… let’s be real. When you are in people ministry there are always going to be a few that are difficult. We are not exempt in our compassion ministry. We talk a lot about loving people well and about serving, even sometimes about overcoming challenges, like wounds, but we haven’t talked much about the people that have come through that have made us want to scream, made us want to kick them out, or perhaps have made me want to throw a food item at their head. (Note: I did refrain. No food was thrown.)

Serving people can be HARD. And keeping a humble heart and forgiving 70×7 times can be exhausting. Finding the all too blurry line between generosity and tough love can be confusing. Attempting to facilitate peace in a community of the sick while feeling undermined by a poisonous drip of constant negativity from within… that’s hard. We aren’t that good at it.

And even when we want Jesus to meet that person and change their heart, when we want to love extravagantly and see freedom and healing come to a soul; it isn’t something we can force. We can pray for the Holy Spirit to draw, daily forgiving and serving.

We are currently in a season like this, and we aren’t perfect, and we don’t always love extravagantly. Sometimes it is easier to avoid a person than to humble myself, go out of my way, and ask them about their day and their family. Some days it is easier to just come home rather than purposely stop and get their favorite soda to bring home as a treat.

I know, however, the Lord can work in our souls during these seasons and even when we don’t see change in a person, we never know what seeds are being planted. And so we trust Him, and we continue serving, even when it feels like struggle.

Would you pray for us as we try to lead Casa Ahavá over the next couple months?

Thanks so much. We love you and cherish your support.

 

I am a Son of God

A Jon Post

Luis, father of 4 sits in my back yard reading a paperback New Testament. My children laugh, play, fight and scream nearby, all at once asking for independence and constant attention. My wife stands in the kitchen preparing a meal for our hungry children and her goofy, bearded husband. I’m sitting with my back against Casa Ahavá’s wall next to Luis, watching my daughters bounce from dog to toy to treehouse to slide to ground.

Smile

Smile

“What have you been reading in there, Luis?” I ask, trying to be as respectful as possible.

And a conversation centered around a scripture in the Epistle of First John begins.

The afternoon draws on, the mosquitos come out, the dusk draws the curtains of sunlight down and my kids have been called into the kitchen where my wife has finished dinner prep. God’s gift of abundant grace enables her to recognize the import and urgency of the moment and she selflessly gathers all four children to the dinner table, leaving Luis and me to watch the sun’s droopy eyes close over another day as we talk about the right to be called God’s children, not just His creation.

“What do you think it takes to be called God’s son, Luis?” I ask.

“I don’t know, Jon.”

So we talk more, the sun finally falls asleep and the stars wake up and still we talk.

Then a whispered prayer, an urgent voice, and a resounding chorus of angels rejoice as Luis and I look at each other. “You have the right to be called a son of God now, Luis.”

“Yes, brother Jon.” He replies, “Yes, I am God’s son now.”

Luis had a tumor pressing on his esophagus at the beginning of the year. He noticed the discomfort, went to a provincial hospital, had an x-ray, and a surgeon scheduled him for a surgery that was never explained to him nor was he asked if he’d like to proceed. He trusted the fledgling health system here in Mozambique and went under the knife.

4 months later I found myself sitting with the head oncologist who looked at Luis’ patient history and a current x-ray of his esophagus. The tumor, barely touched in the surgery, had grown and closed a badly mangled esophagus that had been stretched to (needlessly) bypass his stomach. In every sense of the phrase except literal, Luis had been butchered.

“This cannot be fixed, Jon”, said the oncologist. “We can only give so many chemotherapy treatments, but we can’t fix this.” He gestured in futility at the patient file on his desk.

Some weeks later, Luis and I talked about his prognosis. We used some awful words;

Terminal

Palliative

Cancer

Death

And we used some wonderful ones;

Care

Care

Family

Hope

God

Life

Now Luis lives with a tube inserted into his upper intestine where he injects liquefied food with a large syringe in order to stay alive. He cannot swallow, he cannot go anywhere without a small tupperware container to put his saliva in, he never tastes food.

And I’ve never seen him go for 10 minutes without smiling.

You… Yes you, supporter/prayer-partner/curious reader… You would be so proud to see the way Luis cares for his roommate who is blind in one eye and in consistent pain. He cooks for him, cleans the room alone, holds his hand to walk him across a dangerous road, gently and graciously teaches him the game of checkers, and never once complains about his own pain or discomfort.

You… yes YOU, reading this right now… If you consider yourself a child of God… you can be extremely proud of your brother, Luis. He will probably make it home to his Father before you do, and you will probably not meet him until you get there too…

But be proud of your brother, Luis.

Sons of God

Sons of God