Skip to Content

Trip to Beira Part 2 – Visiting Friends and Trusting God With Sick Kids

A Layne Post

This is a continuation of the story that began in the last post. Thanks for sticking with us.

The next day was Saturday. Out of nowhere we received a text message from Inês’ son explaining who he was and that she wanted to talk with us. Our hearts leapt! It had been months since we had had contact with her, and now here we were in Beira and we could actually visit her! How awesome of the Lord! When Jon told her we were there, she could hardly believe it. We told her we could come to her house on Monday. I joked with Jon, “Now, if only Sara would call, we could see everyone!” and we shrugged it off as an impossibility.

Later that morning after a feed, Selah started gagging and not breathing well. We got out the nose sucker and after a max of a couple minutes, which felt like an eternity, she coughed up some mucus and was fine. I, on the other hand, was not. I was left in tears, tired from the lack of sleep of the previous nights and scared about what had just happened. Jon called an missionary friend of ours that is a Doctor teaching in the central hospital of Beira. We wanted to know our options.

There were not many.

There is one German pediatrician in Beira he trusted.

She was on vacation.

And so we prayed. A peace came over us. Selah was fine at this point with a hint of snot, no fever. We decided to monitor through the night and decide if we wanted to see a doctor the next day. We continued to our first patient visit that afternoon.

Edson was a boy when we met more than four years ago. He and his mom were quite dear to us. Edson lost his leg during his time with cancer, but since then has been thriving. We visited him in 2013 and were filled with excitement to be reunited. When Jon called him, Edson knew his voice and exclaimed, “Tio Jon!” So off we went, me still a little shaky from the morning’s event, but confident the Lord was in control.

We were greeting with big grins and kisses. Edson was no longer the boy we once knew, but a man with his 18th birthday fast approaching. How good to see his same smile matured. His grandma came to take Selah from me. I explained her congestion and the fact we wanted her upright and then I handed her over. In my spirit it was a handing her over to the Lord, a symbol that I trusted Him and His works. The visit was sweet.

Selah had a good enough night with mild congestion, but no big scares. She was still playing great during her awake times and had no fever. The big girls were doing okay, Jovie a little worse.
Sunday morning Jon picked up Benjamin and brought him to the guesthouse for a visit. It was good to see him, his white hat, and his smile, even though we all know he is in constant pain. The girls all gave him big hugs goodbye, Jon and I knowing this was the last time we’d see him this side of heaven.

IMAG1038

Also that morning, we got a call from Campande, the first in a month or more. He, like Inês, was so happy to hear we were in Beira as a family and that we wanted to see him. We praised the Lord for His hand on the trip and our time.

Jovie rested for the morning and in the afternoon we went to visit Anita and her daughters in their home. During her time at Casa Ahavá, Anita had consistently bragged on her 4 daughters. It was such a treat to finally meet them in person. What a wonderful job Anita has done as a mother! Her smile and shy giggle hadn’t changed. The girls enjoyed chasing cats and chickens, though Jovie tired quickly and returned to Dada’s lap. Selah contentedly slept with whomever want to hold her.

That evening we were hosted by a sweet South African family that had housed Jon during his trip in the beginning of March. The girls played great. Even Selah was full of smiles and coos. It wasn’t too long though and poor Jovie zonked without much of an appetite. In the middle of dinner, Jon got a phone call. He came back in with a smirk on his face. It was Sara. After not seeing Campande since their time together in Casa Ahavá, she happened to run into him at a bus stop and he told her we were in town. Awe. What deep assurance we had that we were where we were supposed to be, when we were supposed to be there. Despite the trials we felt we were battling with the girls health, God was in control. We cut the night short and got the girls in bed early.

The night went alright, congestion and coughing for all but Karasi. We had three visits to do and then we were done. We would go to Berta’s and Inês’ homes in the morning and then Jon would pick up Campande and Sara and bring them to the guesthouse in the afternoon.

It was great to see Berta smiling and cheerful after such a rough time during her stay at Casa Ahavá. Her family is taking such great care of her, bringing much peace to our hearts. We repeatedly apologized for the visit not being longer, but we needed to see Inês that morning and get the girls back to the room to rest. Jovie was stuck to her Dada’s lap, extremely tired and had no appetite.

IMAG1047

I think the image of Inês walking from her house to see us and snatching up Karasi will forever remain in my heart. She was thin, but strong as ever. Her oldest son died last November and you could see and sense the sorrow was still deep. The girls got to watch coconuts cracked open, peeled apart, and cut open to see the milk, though they were not so keen on trying it. We had a sweet visit, though too short as well. The girls were in desperate need of a rest.

I really felt hopeful that everyone was close to better, and then I am not sure what happened, but everyone got worse that afternoon. The girls all fell asleep when we got to the room. When Sara and Campande got there, Anaya and Jovie just could not manage getting out of bed, and we let them stay. Selah and Karasi were happy to visit. We did manage to enjoy some smiles and laughs with our friends, and it was awesome to see both in such great health. In a ministry where the majority end up dying, it is heart lifting to see some wins.

We will finish this story in our next post. We know it is often hard to put time aside to read long posts and view many pictures. We hope breaking it up like this doesn’t feel like we are just trying to generate more traffic to our blog. Thanks for your care, prayers, and interest in how God has worked in and through our family here in mission.

Trip to Beira Part 1 – Family as Mission

A Layne Post

Because the story of our Beira trip is long and we feel it is important to tell it in completion, we’ve decided to do a 3-part blog. Stayed tuned every couple days for the next two segments!

Since our first trip to Beira (the capitol of Sofala province about 16 hours north of us when traveled by road, and where most of our patients are from) in December-January of 2012-13, we have longed to go back. It was our desire to make it an annual Heller family trip, as it was a highlight of our ministry and time in Mozambique, following up with patients we had grown to love. 2014, however, did not happen due to the instability of the country during elections and fighting along the only road up north.

But we did not forget.

We settled in our hearts that a trip would be priority for 2015. With a new baby to consider, planning was going to be tricky, but we felt confident it could happen. I wanted Selah to be at least 6 weeks old, so that I would feel comfortable with people holding her and getting to know her, and I wanted her to be young enough to still sleep often during the long car ride. So it was settled – mid-May.

We also knew with 4 kiddos 4 and under the 16 hour drive would need to be broken up. We decided to go more or less half way and spend two nights on the beach, letting the girls frolic and stretch for one whole day, and then continue the rest of the way to Beira. We would do the same on the way home.

In a country where planning ahead is somewhat foreign, we began calling our patients and friends about a week in advance letting them know we were coming and that we would like to see them. We were pretty bummed that Inês had lost her phone a long time ago and we had no contact with her. Sara’s phone also hadn’t worked in months. Even Campande was not answering his phone. This meant there were 3 former Casa Ahavá patients we didn’t know if we would be able to visit. Still, we had people we wanted to see. Regina’s health had taken a turn for the worse and she had been admitted to the hospital, but had a desire to meet Selah. That, in our hearts, was enough to make the trip. Also, Jon needed to do some leg work in person for Benjamin’s house, which had frustratingly come to a standstill.

So we made check lists, piles of supplies and loaded up the van as a family of 6.

Off to Beira.

The drive to a little beach town called Vilanculos, our half-way point, went fabulous. Anaya threw up once, but showed no other signs of ill effect, so we figured it was car sickness. Overall the girls all did better than I could have imagined. The next day they so enjoyed the beach. Anaya kept telling me, “Mama! Jovie and I are having so much fun!”

We felt nice and refreshed ready to make the second push and get to Beira. Again, the girls astounded me. They traveled so well!

The last 120km of the drive is full of pot holes, which had Jon and I wincing and the girls giggling. As we pulled into the guesthouse parking lot, Jon noticed the telltale signs of tire trouble and stuck is head out the window. Flat tire. What grace of God that it had only gone flat then! No changing tires on the side of the road. Hallelujah.

So the girls and I settled in, while Jon put on the spare. As he did, he noticed the other rear tire had considerable damage and it was a miracle that it hadn’t gone flat yet. He called a friend, who recommended some to-go pizzas just up the road from us, and we agreed it sounded good. Jon, Anaya, and Jovie went to get dinner, while Karasi, Selah and I enjoyed some rest and Dora the Expolorer. The girls ate tons and then giggled themselves to sleep in our new “camp house”.

The next morning we were awoken to Jovie thowing up. She was slightly warm, but not hot. We figured it was probably the pizza. We needed to get to a grocery store and have a friend peek at our tires to point us in the right direction for replacements. In the store, Jovie said her tummy hurt. We quickly let our friend look at the tires and headed back to the room to let the girls rest up. Jon got on the phone and started scheduling our days.

Regina was in ICU and asking to see us. Visiting hours were at 1pm. We agreed Jovie wasn’t quite herself, but seemed up for a short visit, and we’d keep her at a distance. We did know it was going to be a challenge to get the girls inside, but Jon has persuasive lips and usually is surrounded with much favor, thanks be to God.

Sure enough he convinced the head nurse to let us bring the girls in one by one and hold them up to the window right next to Regina. So while we would not be able to do a proper visit, Regina would get to see all the girls and most importantly in our hearts, Selah.

I quickly headed in. Selah was awake and happy, which was such a blessing. I held her to the window as Regina waved and I blew kisses. It was a moment I won’t forget, knowing it would be her last time to see my children. Some staff started hollering about a baby being in the ward and a nurse tried to explain our permissions, and I sneaked out. Jon took Karasi in quick and then came a grabbed Jovie. He took a long time, and I knew something was wrong. When he eventually emerged, with tears in his eyes, he said we had to leave and Anaya would not be able to go in. The nurse who had given permission had left and the new staff would not have it.

As gently as possible, we tried to explain to Anaya that we weren’t going to be able to take her in to wave at Tia Regina, even though all her sisters got to go in. I could tell by her face she was bothered, but in her soft 4-year old voice, she whispered, “I’m glad the other girls got to go in.” I choked back tears as I hugged her tight and told her how proud I was of her.

Jovie didn’t throw up for the rest of the day and played nicely on the playground outside our room. That night Anaya and Jovie started with some mucus-y coughs, but nothing alarming, just unfortunate colds. We decided to make it a down day for the girls to hopefully recover as we tried to balance mandated down time with letting them play.

IMAG1026Jon went to get the tires replaced and took a picture of the tire that HADN’T gone flat. It was a miracle we did not have 2 flats on the road! The Lord had been carefully watching over us.

I went at 1 pm to visit and sit with Regina on my own. I got to show her a video of Selah playing. It was a sweet time, though I heard the discouragement in her voice as she told me God had forgotten her. I assured her this was not the case. We prayed and before I left she was again telling me Jesus was there beside her.

That evening Jon was able to meet with a new contractor for Benjamin’s house and felt good about proceeding throughout the week to make things final. What a relief. Benjamin and his family are in desperate need of a place to call their own.

Selah started with some congestion that evening, but no fever. We kept her propped up or held upright through the night to ease her discomfort. Anaya and Jovie continued with a mild cold, feeling tired sometimes and playing other times.

If you made it this far, congratulations on finishing Part 1 of this epic. I know it’s hard to give this much time to something on the Internet so I’m really glad you made it through. Rather than force you to keep reading we will let you rest for the next two days and put Part 2 up on Friday. I hope you have the time to come back and read about how God continued to use our family to His purposes and how He kept teaching us about trusting Him and His hands around us.

 

Selah Janelle

A Jon Post

Beloved

Beloved

Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry.

You are the one we’ve wanted! You are the one we’ve waited for! You are our family’s completion and the reflection of the grace of God!

I’ve waited in this room before. I’ve held her sweating hand, eel-writhing in pain, before. I’ve wondered at the sin-curse, the soul-creation, the bloodwaterfire, lifegift of this miracle.

I’ve seen her closed eyes, her whispered prayers, her steelrope tight muscles.

Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry.

Bursting forth like drum beats in the mountains

Called to the now in thunderous echoes of pain and passion

Waterfalls of agony and wonder, chaotic emotions like spider webs, silken, gorgeous and terrifying.

Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry!

Yelling out her solo hymn of laborpain, my beloved heaves the weight and the urge to stop back at the liar who tells her she hasn’t the strength.

Aweful, awesome, my eyes deadlocked on the miracle of selfgiving displayed in blood and trust before me in a hospital labor and delivery room.

Given

Given

Now, screaming down this mountain with no brakes, ripping through the waves of anguish, my beloved holds her head high and gives her body to her daughter.

IT IS ENOUGH.

IT IS ENOUGH.

Selah.

Stop… stop… reflect on this.

Janelle.

God, has been gracious.

March 27, 2015

Family

Family

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