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Heller Family Update

A Layne Post

It has been awhile. I am sorry! We are doing well and mainly in prep mode for our sweet baby #4, Selah, who is scheduled to make her appearance on Friday, if she does not come on her own before. This pregnancy in general has been more difficult on my body; however, the Lord, as always, has been faithful. I currently feel in good health – back, hip, neck, etc. Praise the Lord! I also have an amazing husband, who has supported and served me so well; I could not do this without him. I am forever thankful.

Please pray with us on Friday for a healthy labor and delivery. I am feeling less confident going into this labor… maybe it is because I know too well what is coming, and I dread the pain. Pray for peace and strength of mind. Yesterday afternoon Jon and I were talking and I told him, “I have to just go into a certain mode, a ‘let’s get this done’ mode, and I am just not there yet.” I have a few more days!

I would also appreciate prayers for a smooth transition for Anaya, Jovie, and Karasi. Karasi is definitely used to her role as the baby, and I worry it will be hard on her. As for the big girls, it is just hard for Mama to be distracted so often.

My parents will arrive on April 5th for 10 days to support us and love on our littles. How awesome is that? We are so excited!

We decided, with the support of the Voices of the World board, to temporarily close down the Casa Ahavá portion of our ministry while our family eases into being a family of 6. It is a sort of maternity leave for me, as having people live in my backyard just comes with a certain responsibility. The patients we had living with us finished their treatments and went home to their families. With glad hearts, we sent Gilda home with a clean bill of health. Regina, on the other hand, was not responding to her treatment as we hoped. All involved in her treatment came to the conclusion that she should return home to spend her last days with her family. Pray for her in the coming days. Because her cancer moved to her lungs, she struggles with coughing, and as a result sleeping.

Jon will continue visiting at the hospital and getting to know prospects to move in shortly. Anaya asked me the other day, “Who is moving in now?” I explained to her that we are going to wait for baby Selah to come first, we’ll get used to living with a little baby, then we’ll have more people come. She nodded and said, “We’ll go get them at the hospital.” I love that my kids are part of ministry with us. It is an empty feeling out back and there is a bit of a sinking feeling peering out the window first thing in the morning and not seeing patients, but we do feel confident that this is the right decision for the next month or so.

And one more thing to pray for – Benjamin’s house! We have run into a little hiccup that Jon and the construction company are trying to work out. A couple miles from where Benjamin’s property is, there is a newly built railway that passes and cuts off the access road. They have yet to build up bridge for cars to drive over, so getting materials to the site is a challenge. Pray for quick and affordable options!

We love you guys and are so grateful for you support.

Generous

A Jon Post

Last week the generosity of the Kingdom of God and its King was on full display.

Sunday, the 1st, I flew to the town Benjamin and his family live in. It’s only a 1 hour flight but it’s about a 14 hour drive and it would cost more in fuel to drive than the ticket on the airplane so I flew.

It started with the kindness of our friends Wayne and Tracey Greenwood organizing a place to stay and a vehicle I could use while I was there, all at no cost. I had planned to stay in as cheap a place as possible and use public transport but was able to stay in a house with a wonderful family and use a vehicle for the entire 5 days I was there.

Mozambique is notoriously difficult to get things like buildings/houses built so I had a tough task before me. I had 5 days to scout the building site, coordinate with SOMEONE/ANYONE about building a house and work out all the details (materials, payment, land permissions, etc.) that needed to be settled before a brick can be laid. Not a small assignment.

On a whim, the day before I left, Layne reached out on a local Facebook page, asking for contacts or references for a good construction company in the area. A local businessman’s wife saw the plea and forwarded us her husband’s phone number the next day. I called him up. He agreed to a meeting the morning I called and, over a cup of coffee, I explained what we wanted to do. His company does not do cheap work. As I showed him what I had hoped to build for Benjamin’s family, and told him our budget he grimaced and explained that it wasn’t even a third of what he would usually charge to build something like that.
Once again, the generosity of our King is immense.
He probed more into what we do and why, we agreed that we could reduce the size a bit but even with these changes, we didn’t have the money to do it. A couple minutes later… he looked at me, confirmed our budget one more time and said, “Jon, we’ll build it for you.” And that was that. For less than half of what he would usually ask, he promised to build a home for Benjamin and his family.

I spent the rest of the week going to Benjamin’s little rented house (a single room about two meters by two meters) and visiting with his family, going over details of the build, walking to the building site, (it’s about 2 kilometers from the end of a drivable road), and visiting with other former Casa Ahavá patients or their families.

Our King’s generosity is a stunning thing.

Thank you, to everyone who contributed to this. We will hope to be posting pictures as things develop; we hope that’s very soon.

Family

Family

Friend

Friend

Zacarias' Widow Teresa and Two of Her Children

Zacarias’ Widow Teresa and Two of Her Children

UPDATED: ***All Funds Raised*** There Are Things We Don’t Know How to Say

A Jon Post

There are some things that I love to share, some things I love to show, some things I love to enjoy with others;
My wife’s spirit
My daughters’ laughter
My Christ and His power
A cold crisp morning and the sun rising above the mountains
Casa Ahavá’s patients voices and stories and laughter
The deep truths that come from sharing in those voices, stories and laughter

And there are some things I don’t know how to say. There are some things I dread sharing, things I put off or delay the telling of, things I know no creative way to chronicle;
Zakarias died two weeks ago
Benjamin went home today to die

Zakarias

Zakarias

Benjamin

Benjamin

I don’t have an inspired way to narrate my feelings or how those events affect me. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks trying to put words on this page and kept failing and failing.
We knew that we would outlive our patients when we started Casa Ahavá. We knew that the well of mourning would only grow deeper.
Every patient Casa Ahava had in 2013 has died and many from 2014 have followed them to eternity.
So we wait.
Come quickly, oh Great King.
We want to see them again.

These have been expensive months for Casa Ahavá. A large part of the finances for our ministry go to helping patients who are too poor to afford it, to travel across the country to see the families they have left far away and return to finish chemotherapy treatments. Since November we’ve sent 4 patients on this round trip journey and 3 more on one way journeys. We also make great efforts to support the families of those patients who have passed away, especially with funeral costs.

Last week, as I was talking to Benjamin about going home to spend the time he had left with his wife and four children, he asked me for help. “Brother Jon,” he began, “I need help. I do not own a house and the house my family stays in we have been renting. I own a small plot of land in my town and would like to build a grass house for my wife so that when I die they will not be thrown out with nowhere to go.”
I nodded my understanding.
“This little house would cost about $150 to build but if you can’t cover all of that I could ask my old boss (the owner of the fishing boat he worked on for 15 years) to help too.” Benjamin finished.
I told him I could not give him a final answer right away but committed to help in some way.
A grass house for his wife and children?
Last night Layne and I sat with Benjamin and told him we’d like to help him build a house out of concrete blocks and cement. His eyes widened and he insisted that it did not have to be some huge house and that his wife and kids would be fine in a small home.
I made this commitment knowing;
1. God has always provided for the things Casa Ahavá needs.
2. Those who read this blog have been so faithful to help with things like this.
We want to raise about $3000 dollars and build Benjamin’s family a home. He will not have long to oversee the building of it and we want to ensure his wife and kids can remember their husband and father in a home built in his memory.

Can you help?

If so, please click on the “Help Build Benjamin’s House” button below and you will be taken to our secure Paypal portal where you can donate specifically to this need. We will update this post when this need is met.

***Update! In 3 days the Kingdom of God has responded and more than covered all needed funds for Benjamin’s house. As of now, I (Jon) plan on going to visit him at the end of February or the beginning of March to help him and his family make this happen. Thank you!***

Through all of this, please pray that his pain stays manageable, his wound stays clean and his hands grasp firmly the rope that pulls him to his Savior.




 

Advent Comes

A Layne Post

The day was hot and even the afternoon shade brought little relief with the lack of breeze. Two men sat outside on a weathered wicker couch, three little girls ran around apparently unhindered by the heat, and one pregnant woman worked in the kitchen frying chicken. You wouldn’t guess Christmas was approaching, unless you walked into the living room to see the trimmed tree and the decorations strewn about.

But there in the ordinary, avent rolled in, the same way a King could be born in a lowly stable. Hope in dark places.

One man, a fisherman by trade, dares to open up about the uncertainty of his future and the truth of his advancing disease.

A little girl whines for help in the swing.

The other man tells a parable of a man on a boat that falls into the sea, and then is tossed a life saver. The stranded man only experiences salvation when he re-enters the boat. The story-teller explains how we are all, being sinners, stranded in the sea. Some have calm waters, others have a storm; some have a longer rope and others have a shorter rope, but we are all in need of a life saver and all in need of being pulled into the boat. He tells how Jesus is that life saver and how our rope, our life, whether long or short is only saved in the end when we get in the boat.

A little girl takes her sister’s toy and crying ensues. The woman hollers from the house. The kids come inside for dinner. One man follows. The other man goes to his kitchen to prepare food.

All sleep.

The next morning as bandages are changed and two men have their morning reminder that disease is near, the fisherman recounts a dream of being stranded in the water with large waves all around. “I am dying!” he yelled in his dream. A life saver appeared. The dream ended with him being pulled in the boat. Saved.

Advent comes.

As Christmas celebrations commence, we are reminded that this little baby, Jesus, was born into a hurting world with an ultimate goal – salvation for all.

Glory in the highest!

 

Not the First or the Last

A Jon Post

It wasn’t the first or the last time I will plead that a test return without signs of cancer.

Regina

Regina – Returning

Regina will be coming back to Casa Ahavá. She wasn’t cured. God heard our prayers, He listened to us, He wept with us, He knelt beside us, and He withheld the miracle. Regina has cancer on her lungs. Her CT scan stared unblinking at her doctor and I from its fluorescent backlight. It screamed its unapologetic truth at us through her lung tissue and chest. Two spots showed their wispy contrast against health and oxygen. Two nodes where they did not belong gaped back at us from that fluorescent box. Cancer. Metastasis. Pain.

It wasn’t the first or last time I will start a conversation with someone, “This is going to be hard. You are sick.”

Regina will spend the holidays with her family north of the city called Beira in a little village named Marumeu. From there, at the beginning of next month, she will get on a 4 hour train ride, then a 16 hour bus and return to the only place in this country where there is medicine for her. Here in Maputo.

It wasn’t the first or last phone call I will receive informing me that someone has died.

Separation

Pedro – Separation

Pedro’s brother called me.
It had been a month since any of Pedro’s family had answered their phone. Pedro’s number stopped working soon after we got him home and his two brother’s number hadn’t been working since the first week of November. Finally, last week, I got a phone call from a number out of South Africa. Pedro’s brother wanted me to know… Pedro closed his eyes for the last time two weeks ago. He held Marcos, his newborn son close, and finally ended the pain of separating his soul from his body. Pedro finally met face to face with the one who passed the test on his behalf.

It wasn’t the first or last time I will remove gauze and tape from a wound and feel the drop in my chest at the sight of a tumor that has only grown, not shrunk.

Unwavering

Benjamin – Unwavering

Benjamin’s pain level has increased though his courage and smile are unwavering. His tumor has grown as he has waited for his body to recover and be ready for another round of chemo. He rests a lot, hoping the pain behind his tumor will diminish and that he may experience a pain-free day. He has been waiting for days now.

These are not firsts nor lasts

Here at Casa Ahavá we have times when it seems like battles are won and we walk in the sun and there is only laughter and relief.
The last weeks have not made up one of those times. These last weeks, there has been shadow. Death’s dark sting has pricked Casa Ahavá twice… Tomás also died last month.

Remembered

Tomás – Remembered

Tears have leaked from eyes more than laughter has burst from smiles.
Now in our mourning we wait for our Comforter.
I’m so glad that Jesus Himself, asks the Father to send us a Comforter, a Counselor, a Helper, an Intercessor, a Strengthener… who will remain with us forever.

Come oh great Comforter. How we need your help, intercession, strength and comfort now.