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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.

What is goin’ on

A Layne Post

First, I would like to update you on Regina, as we have pleaded for your prayers. We have her CT scan in our possession, and we will take it to the doctor, Lord willing, on Monday to hear the results. So keep the prayers up and we’ll let you know. For now she is up north with some of her family, enjoying time away from the hospital and remembering why we fight so hard and endure so much.

Secondly, we would like to welcome two new patients to Casa Ahavá – Tia Berta and Tia Gilda! They arrived yesterday and are settling in, getting used to Gasher and learning the markets on our road. Berta is a lovely grandmother from Beira, the same province the rest of our patients have been from. She is kind with a brightness in her eyes and an absolute joy to add to our family. Gilda is 43, from Tete a province further north, and has a husband and 4 children she has left there. Her oldest is 23yrs old and her youngest is 4. It has obviously been difficult for her to be so far from the youngest boy. Gilda is smart, easy going and I foresee that she will slide into life here without hiccup. We are so happy they are here! I’ll snap some pictures of their beautiful faces soon, as I know it helps you to “know” them when you have a face with a name. Pray for grace as Benjamin returns on Tuesday and the 3 of them settle into community together.

Third, we went on vacation! When Casa Ahavá is vacant, it is a rare event, and we feel a little bit like empty nesters  with the need to getaway and be free. (That could be read with a negative connotation, but please don’t take it that way; I think you can understand our sentiments.) We packed up the car, loaded the girls and went on a 4 night beach vacation to a lovely spot we’ve had our eye on for 2yrs now. The owner graciously gave us a wonderful deal and was incredibly flexible with us, as our dates changed multiple times. I knew I was ready for vacation as I anxiously counted down the days, but I had no idea how absolutely refreshing it would be. Sometimes vacation with a 3,2, and 1 year old can feel like more work than play, but not this time! We attempted to have multiple families come along with us, but in the end it was just our family, and looking back I am confident the Lord knew just what He was doing. The girls had a blast, and Jon and I had lots of time to sit together, talk, and reflect. This vacation was a precious gift.

Last news, but big news, we are buying a van! We knew with the addition of baby Selah we would need a bigger vehicle, as my car only barely fit the 3 car seats in the back, and it seems like this van has come to us by the will of God. Not only will it fit our family, but all of our patients as well! No longer will our patients have to climb up a step stool and then climb through the back of Jon’s Land Cruiser and over seats. They will now have easy entrance! Hooray! It is a diesel, which is much cheaper to drive here, and we are hopeful our monthly fuel cost will come out about the same! How awesome is that? We are so thankful to a generous donor who is helping us with the bulk cost of the vehicle. We are humbled! The van will hopefully be officially ours sometime next week, after the money has been wired and exchanged. It will difficult for me to say goodbye to my little car, as I grow strangely attached to things like cars, but I will adjust and learn to love my much bigger van… and learn to park it!

van1 van 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your continued love and support. I am forever aware that Jon and I are not in this alone, that we have a team behind us, holding us up and pushing us forward. We are grateful.

Devastated

“This X-ray doesn’t show me what I need to see” said Regina’s doctor yesterday.
Last month Regina finished her 6th month of chemotherapy and over the past few days she’s had an ultrasound, blood tests, and an X-ray taken of her chest to find out if there are still signs of her breast cancer.
“The ultrasound and blood tests look good though” her doctor continued. Still, he looked at me and I could tell he was uneasy with declaring her cancer in remission and her treatment course finished. It takes a few days for the Central Hospital to schedule and perform an X-ray for a patient, a result of a valiant effort to keep up with the constant demand in a city of 2 million people combined with the limited resources of a developing country.
“I tell you what,” I said, “I will take her to a private clinic this afternoon and pay for an X-ray there, then tomorrow I’ll bring that back to you so you can feel better about making an informed decision and we can all rest easier about her health.”
“No problem.” Her doctor replied, “Just swing by in the morning and I’ll look at it then write up her discharge papers and she can be on her way home the next day!”
“Perfect!” I said, “See you in the morning.”
Regina and I left the doctor’s office smiling and I could see in Regina’s eyes the anticipation and joy of being so close to going back to seeing her family. That afternoon we sped through a little private clinic up the road from our house (where we’ve taken Pedro and Filomena for emergencies in the past) and got a quick X-ray done.
This morning I found Regina’s doctor in the oncology conference room busily doing his best to care for the hundreds of patients he is responsible for. He looked up at me and smiled and, when I asked if he had a sec to look at Regina’s X-ray, he quickly moved aside his current task and held out his hand for the X-ray.
When he pulled out the plastic film and held it up to the light, his face clouded over.
“This isn’t what I wanted to see.”
My heart sunk. Still… I hoped.
“This isn’t what I hoped for.” He reaffirmed.
He indicated a cloudy section, contrasting with the dark around it, and said, “This should be cleaner.”
“What do we do?” I asked.
My heart was racing. Regina, dear sweet Regina, oh, how I wanted to send her home tomorrow. Oh, how I wanted to get her to the “nice” bus at 2:00 AM tomorrow, the one with air conditioning, with a TV, with a bathroom. Oh, how I wanted her to see her grandchildren, all waiting and hoping that their grandma would be home soon.
“She needs a CT scan.” said Regina’s doctor. And he pulled a little piece of paper out and started writing instructions to the CT scan technician.
Carcinoma of the breast, suspected it has metastasized to the lung or bone.
My heart sunk further.

Beach Day

Beach Day

Regina

Regina

Metastasized.
The word no cancer patient ever wants to hear.

After a few more minutes of conversation with the doctor, I called Layne. She was at home with our three girls and Regina was preparing to leave early tomorrow morning. I told Layne what the doctor told me. We agreed that Layne needed to tell Regina right away.
So, three kids running, playing, crying in the background, Layne approached Regina and started, “Regina, Jon talked to the doctor. We have some bad news…”
Regina listened stoically to the report. Her face betrayed little emotion as it began to sink in. She tried to keep doing the cleaning Layne had found her in the middle of. Soon she was leaning against the wall… crying… asking God for reasons that didn’t come… looking for answers to questions too terrible to voice.
Sitting on a bench back at the hospital, praying and venting my frustration I shook my head over and over.
Not this one. Not this one. Cancer! You shall not have this one! My heart and soul screamed out, desperate for a confirmation to my challenge. I sat, lungs and throat sucked dry and raged against a disease that ravages so many people I love here.
NOT THIS ONE, CANCER! My silent scream echoed out to an empty courtyard.

I don’t know if I’m right. I don’t know if Regina will have a clean CT scan. I don’t know.
But I pray.
I pray.
Layne told Regina the plan. For the next 8 days we will pray. Regina will pray. Regina’s friends and family will pray. Our friends and family will pray.
We pray for a miracle.

We pray for a clean CT scan.

Don’t make us liars.
Pray with us.