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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 – 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.


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.


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.


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.


“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



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.

Turning 30

A Layne Post

For some people the age 30 is a hard pill to swallow. Saying goodbye to the teens and 20’s can feel like you are waving youth ‘goodbye’ and settling into ‘middle-age’. For some it was or is a goal line, a “make a million by the time you are 30” type of line. For others it is a “I’ll do better in my next thirty years” type of turning mark.

Some people may be beyond 30 and looking back thinking how young and naïve they were. Some maybe remember it as the glory days. Maybe for others it is a foggy blur of a fast moving life.

Some are smack in the middle of their 30’s thinking, “it is only downhill from here”. Or perhaps thinking, “30 really isn’t that old because I still feel young!”

Well, this week I turned 30.

For me I feel like it is a graduation of sorts. I feel like I am moving forward equipped with knowledge, wisdom, and growth that my previous life has taught me. I honestly feel like I am graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors – not that I aced every test, not that I didn’t make silly mistakes or skip class at all, but somehow my gracious Lord gave me a few extra credit projects and I came out of top. I am 30 and I am owning it.

I am so happy to be here.

I have a God, who has given me every good and perfect gift.

I have a wonderful husband, who outshines all in comparison, who loves me and cares for me with reckless abandon.

I have three healthy beautiful daughters and one precious little babe on the way.

I have family that unceasing loves and supports me, both on my side and on Jon’s.

I have a body of Christian believers, who care for me and my family as if they were my own flesh and blood.

I have a community of friends and missionaries right here in Mozambique who have stepped up and filled in for the physical absence of my family.

I have a 4 absolutely delightful Mozambicans who are living with us, who have added such joy, culture, and humility to my life.
And despite my African-dusty countertops, dinted car, stained couches, cracked dishes, taped floor tiles… guys, you can’t convince me otherwise, I’ve got the life.

I am rich.

My Hat in My Hand

A Jon Post

There are a few things running around my mind. I’ve decided to make a blog out of it.

Layne is traveling this week, I’m at home with my three girls, Casa Ahavá is empty, two of the most recent four have transitioned out.
Inês finished her treatment and is with her family, hopefully, with cancer in remission.
Pedro… well… if you’ve read the last few posts you know a bit about his story. He’s home, still alive, still paralyzed on his right side, still smiling. His newborn son has a name; Marcos Pedro Mavango. Pedro is in a good place.
Campande and Sara are both visiting their families between treatments and will be back tomorrow.

There was some work that needed to be done on the Casa Ahavá rooms that was easier done with no one in there (re-laying broken concrete and tile, re-painting the kitchen floor, etc). We spent some money on some nicer counters and cabinets for Casa Ahavá’s kitchen and are very pleased with how it came out.

And so here I sit, home with my kids, mind spinning, thinking about washing diapers, washing kids, washing dishes, washing my sins, washing my wife in the water through the word (whatever that means), washing Casa Ahavá’s floors, washing my kitchen floors (I knocked the toaster over a couple days ago, you know how all those toast crumbs get in the bottom of those things? Yeah… ALL over my kitchen).

I’ve also found myself thinking a lot about money this week. Money I spent on Casa Ahavá (paint, tile, grout, cabinets, toilet cleaner), money I spent on my family’s groceries, money I spent on a plane ticket to send Layne to America. We’ve written on here about how we’re in need of support, how our expenses are higher than our income. How does it then follow that I flew to America last month for a wedding, and that Layne flew to America this week for a birthday trip?  How do I look supporters or potential supporters in the eye and say we need more help? I know that you all have entrusted me with these resources and I feel that it’s important to be honest and open about how I use them.

I went to the USA last month to be Javan and Holly Mesnard’s best man at their wedding. The plane tickets from here to Phoenix were paid for by a generous person who wanted to make sure Javan was blessed. No donated money was spent on that travel.

Layne is in the USA right now. Last year in January I decided I wanted her to go on a “girls trip” with her sisters, mom and niece for her 30th birthday which is this year the same year has her mom’s 60th. We’ve been saving a little bit of money every month since then to pay for this trip.

We do take vacations from time to time. We do try to rest from time to time. We feel like it’s important to find time and memories outside of our full time ministry at the hospital and Casa Ahavá.

This week, while the other two girls were sleeping, Anaya was playing with her stuffed animals. She held her stuffed bird in her arms and said in a pleading and mournful voice, “Don’t die birdie. Don’t die in my arms. Just don’t die yet. I love you birdie.”
Anaya is 3.
This not an uncommon way for her to play. She often plays at dressing bandages, helping her sisters and toys while (pretend) sick and vomiting.
Jovie often pretends that Chauncey, her stuffed elephant, is sick and needs to be rushed to the hospital.
Jovie is 2.
These are the things that keep my mind spinning and my heart questioning about how we’re doing as a family. I don’t think it’s bad that my 3 and 2-year-old are so familiar with death and sickness. But I don’t know if it’s healthy for my 3-year-old to be pretending to have a seizure (like Uncle Pedro) while she’s lying in her bed.
And so I pray.
I was in church recently and there was a guest speaker talking about the dreams God gives us and what He purposes for us to do. He started walking around the room, asking people what they wanted to be. He didn’t come to me but when I started thinking about how I would respond to that question the answer was immediately obvious. I want to be a loving husband and a righteous father. That’s all I really want. Those two things are much more important to me than Casa Ahavá.
So, we take Sabbaths. We take times to rest away from sickness, pain, and death. We try to give our daughters a world full of life and joy mixed with the pain and sorrow they see every day.
That may be hard for some people to support. Some people may prefer that I spend more time and effort on Casa Ahavá than I do on my wife and kids. That’s really, really, really fine. There are lots of missionaries and ministries around the world who are doing INCREDIBLE things for Jesus. They need your help too and I’m sure there are plenty that share your values.
For those of you who are on board with me, please don’t be offended if I splurge now and then for my family. I can’t work a few overtime hours to make some extra spending money so I can take my family somewhere nice for the weekend. I can’t work towards a promotion and the extra money that comes with middle management.

I live with my hat in my hand, hoping that my priorities are straight, that my wife feels loved, that my kids are fathered well, and my patients are served with all that’s left over.

My Kids

My Kids