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Hope Changes

A Jon Post

I sat on the couch this week with my wife. I sat and wept for the frustration of the shattered reality that there is no forthcoming solution to the place we find ourselves.

Last Month

Last Month

Last month Layne posted that Pedro had an MRI and we were waiting for the next step to be determined based on the results of that MRI.
The results came.
Placed up against a florescent light to show the contrast between bone, tissue, cerebrum, artery, and tumor, this thin film of plastic brought with it ugly words.
Tumor, extensive re-growth, malignant, invasive, terminal.
An apologetic neurosurgeon sat in front of me and explained her inability to even close the surgical wound left behind by his first surgery.
“…only thing left to do is help him manage pain and dress the wound.”
And she left me with the honor/dread of telling Pedro his prognosis… of cutting the spidersilk thread we all had held on to that maybe surgery could help… of telling him that his seizures and loss of muscle control were only the beginning… of telling him that there is a God who loves. A God who loves. A God who loves.
Now… 1 week later, he sits in a wheelchair in my back yard.
Unable to move his right arm or leg.

Laughter

Laughter

And I sat on my couch and wept. In this situation, because of his rapidly deteriorating health, we would have hoped to bring Pedro’s wife and children to him here at Casa Ahavá. But just three weeks ago Pedro’s son was born. His forth child, not even a month old, waits for his daddy to come home. A daddy who cannot hold him, cannot stand tall with him, cannot wrap him against his chest and tell him how proud he is. This 3 week old cannot make the journey to Pedro.
Pedro’s health means he cannot get on a bus or an airplane to get home. His family cannot get on one to come here.
Let’s get Pedro home.
Thursday morning at around 4 we will help Pedro into the car and I’ll drive him the (depending on road conditions) 12 hour trip to his home village. His home is in a bit of a remote area but we’ll make it.
So our hope has changed.
It’s changed from hoping for long months, even years, to hoping for enough days to get home. Just two more days. And it’s changed to hoping for more than just what this broken body can offer. Our hope has changed. Pedro’s hope has changed.
A God who loves. A God who loves. A God who loves.
Please pray for us as we drive to Muxúnguè on Thursday to get Pedro home.

The Route

The Route

Pray that our hope is not deferred but that Pedro’s longing to see his son is fulfilled.
Please pray with us for Pedro’s heart.

Surrounded by Strength and Courage

A Layne Post

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“I was told this medicine kills. No one wanted me to come. I heard only 2 people have come back alive. My husband was scared, but I would have died had I stayed; I figured I would come and die here,” Sara said without flinching. Courage radiated. “Look at you now. Look how strong you are!” I encouraged. A little later I asked, “Back home, did you work?” “I worked in the machamba (farm). We plant rice and sweet potatoes,” she replied. She laughed about how spoiled her son is and how he won’t eat rice from the stores. She told me about when it is time to harvest the sweet potatoes they have piles and piles – they have so many the kids just start throwing them around like toys. The rice harvest was a bit small this year because she was here, but her 15 year old daughter harvested 9 bags. I told her someday I’d like to go to her machamba and help her out a day. She laughed and laughed saying no one would believe a white lady getting dirty in the rice field. I do hope that can happen someday.

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I sat next to Inês in the day-chemo room meant for those who live nearby and can come and go. She leaned her head against the hard wall as we waited for her last bottle of Chemo to finish. The television showed women dressed in traditional fabrics dancing. I peered at Inês and asked if she could dance like that. She tilted her head down and laughed. She insisted she never could dance, but she could sing. And then we sat some more. By the time we exited Oncology it was dark outside, and we both knew there would be a lot of traffic on the way home. She hopped in the back and assured me she was fine. We waited in a long line up a hill, tail lights screaming the presence of so many cars, and she quietly told me she needed to vomit. I turned on my hazards, pulled out of line, and opened the door. She went to a ditch, threw up a few times, rinsed her mouth with water, and I asked the Lord to help calm her tummy, to help her make it home, and to miraculously transport us past the slow traffic. We were not transported, but her tummy did remain calm. When we got home she headed to her room, again assuring me she would be just fine – and she would be. She is one of the strongest women I’ve known.

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“I was married for a long time before we had kids. I prayed and prayed, asking the Lord for a baby. I finally had a baby. That child died when it was 10 months old. I had five other children. One died when it was two weeks old. I now have four.” “Sara, that is so hard. I am so sorry.” I whispered. And few minutes later, “You were pregnant and delivered six times? You are so strong!” She laughed and heartily agreed it is not easy to be pregnant or have kids.

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“Sara! A Bible name,” I smiled. “Do you know Sara was Abraham’s wife and that God called Abraham to a foreign land and Sara went with him? Ah! And Sara you are now being called to a foreign land; you are coming to live with Americans!” She giggled. “We are strange, I assure you, but we do care and we want to take care of you.”

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These women. They are strong and courageous. So full of story, so full of life – the beauty with the pain. What a privilege for me and my family to share in their stories, if only for a few months.

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Please pray for Inês as she will be having an X-ray, sonogram, and blood test to determine if she is finished with Chemo and can return home. She is so ready to be home.

Please pray for Pedro as he had an MRI this week to determine the next step with his large head wound. The results should be ready in about two weeks. We hope they will be able to do a skin graft and surgery to close the wound. His wife is also due with their 4th child any day.

Please pray for Sara as she is supposed to start treatment next week. Last month her blood levels were not adequate and her treatment was delayed. Pray with us for good blood tests this week. Any delay is more time away from family, which is just difficult.

Please pray for Campande as he, too, has blood tests this week with hopes of starting treatment next week and last month he was a bit anemic and his treatment was also delayed.

 

We love and cherish your support.

 

 

We Can’t Forget That We Are Dying Here

A Jon Post

I’ve sat on that same spot of grass many times. I’ve felt my emotions rise there many times. This day was no different. There I sat, out in front of Oncology, spinning a twig in the dirt, chatting and listening to a group of ladies who live in the cancer ward.
They live there.
There is no where to go for them. They know no one in this huge city of 2,000,000 inhabitants, they have no family within 1000 miles of this place, they have no transport, they have no money.
They live in a cancer ward.
Wake up at 3 AM. Take a freezing cold shower. Take 200 mg of ibuprofen for the pounding headache resulting from late-stage cancer and an IV chemo treatment. Crawl back onto a thin mattress under a ratty sheet. Try to rest. Eat. Sleep. Take 500 mg of paracetamol (generic Tylenol). Eat. Try to rest. Watch a day crawl by and blur into the weariness that chronic pain  and vomit inducing treatment bring in their dance of suffering.
Every day.
For 6 months.
So there I sat, spinning a twig in the dirt. Pedro, one of the two men who is staying in Casa Ahavá, came to visit with me that day. He too sat in the grass, visiting and chatting along with me with this small group of ladies.
“We have no where to go. We have no way to forget that we are sick. We can’t forget that we are dying here.” Regina said, smiling at me through the pain of the truth she was telling. “At least Pedro and the others there at Jon and Layne’s house can forget about being sick.”
Pedro smiled, nodded, and the conversation continued in another direction.
But I kept thinking about what Regina said. I smiled and we kept chatting but inside my heart broke. Oh, how I wanted to say to Regina and the 6 other women there, “Please come to my house! Please come stay with me and let Christ help you forget that you are sick! Please come live in my home with my family and live the truth that you are not running out of life! Come to Casa Ahavá and run into life with us! Please… come forget that you are sick.”
And inside God said, “Be faithful with what I’ve entrusted to you and your family.
Then we walked upstairs, into the cancer ward itself, and sat with some men in one of the men’s rooms. I talked to Papa Benjamin who sits on his bed all day.
Waiting.
Waiting for his body to be ready to drip a toxic mix of chemicals through a vein in his wrists meant to prejudice his cancer just a little more than his body.
Waiting.
Waiting to go to a home 1600 miles away and bury his 3-year-old daughter, Anita, who died last week with a high fever.
Waiting.
Wishing he too, could forget.
And my heart broke.
Because I have no room for Papa Benjamin. I have no room for Regina. I have no room for Anna. I have no room for Orlando. Casa Ahavá is full with our four patients.

Campande

Campande

But for now… We can help 4 precious people forget they are sick. We can watch World Cup games, we can go to the beach, we can go get ice cream in the park, we can go to the huge open air market and buy shawls for the ladies, belts for the men, we can sit in my back yard and watch three little girls play on swings and plastic cars and watch a big slobbery dog run around with a rubber chew toy in his mouth.

Inês

Inês

We can sing to Christ of His love with a guitar and read the Bible in lawn chairs and smile together. We can help Pedro, Inês, Campande, and Sara forget they are sick. We can help them run into life.

Pedro

Pedro

That’s Casa Ahavá.

That’s what you’re a part of.

Sara

Sara

New Patient, Updates, and News

A Layne Post

The girls ran wildly in their jammies through house, slamming doors and giggling, as I shouted from the kitchen “Stop that! Somebody is going to get hurt!” The ‘Frozen’ soundtrack blared from the other room, much to the girls’ content. The dishes were piled high and I was adding to them from our morning coffee and rusks. It was chaos for sure. I peaked out the kitchen window to see if the patients had woken up, a usual routine of mine and a practice always missed if no one is staying with us. There he sat on a hard plastic chair pulled into the warmth of the sun. His neck was bent low reading his Bible and his back was curved accentuating his age. A smile spread across my face and I continued with the busyness that inevitably comes having a 1,2, and 3 year old.

Time rolled by, the girls were dressed, the laundry was started, and it was time to start prepping for 3 little girls’ lunches. Again I peered out the window and again I saw him, this time chair pulled into the shade near his kitchen, neck bent low, reading his Bible. My heart welled. I was so glad Papa Campande had come to stay with us.

GrandpaLunch finished and I opened the back gate. The caged animals, also known as my adorable daughters, grabbed their favorite toys and flew out the door. I quickly picked up Karasi before she toppled down the two tiled steps and propped her on my hip. “Boa Tarde, Papa Campande!” His aged face looked up and smiled, “Boa Tarde.”Going For a Walk

 The girls came and went playing a lot, fighting a little and crying a little. It was as if Papa Campande had always been around. He quietly went over and checked out their chalk drawings and they rambled on and on in English about the beautiful whales they had drawn. He gently grabbed Jovie’s hand and walked around and she eagerly complied.

Our family is so blessed to run Casa Ahavá. We thank the Lord for our new patient Campande and the months we have ahead together. I am so thankful that he does not have to stay in the hospital for the next 6 months, but that he gets to be a part of the Heller family, for now in person, but forever in our hearts. Would you pray with us for healing and grace through treatment?

Clinging to lifeAnd our Rosa, remember her? Her 7 year old passed away while she was in hospital up north in January and last month her 17 month old also passed away. Overcome by grief, we sent her home to see her family and say ‘goodbye’ to her son. Her health deteriorated quickly due to a lack of appetite and vomiting. When her husband attempted to accompany her on a bus to get her back here, the bus driver would not allow it because Rosa could not stand on her own. The Oncologist encouraged her to stay home and gain strength as she would be unable to receive Chemotherapy in her current state. She is currently staying with her parents, who prefer to go to the local traditional doctors (witch doctors). She has not improved. Jon speaks almost daily with the husband and father and encourages them to take her to the local hospital. We have not heard if that was done. Please pray for Rosa. Pray for her physical health, but most importantly for her spiritual health.

And Zakarias. Remember him and his sweet family? Keep praying for him. He is still living up north, still being husband to Theresa, and still being father to his 5 children. His tumor continues to grow, as well as his discomfort. We regularly send him his prescriptions so that he remains as comfortable as possible during this time.

AnitaAnita is home with her four daughters and happy as can be. We love to hear updates from her. Please pray that her cancer remains in remission and her health only improves.Ines
Inês is recovering from her 5th Chemo cycle and while is it rough we remember and keep before our eyes that she only has one left. We rejoice with her that she is so close to being with her family.

 

PedroPedro is currently in the hospital receiving his 4th cycle of Chemo. We continue to fight to keep his wound infection free. His wife is 8 months pregnant at home and caring for his other 3 children.

 

 

In other news, thanks to lots of work on Jon’s part, Voices of the World, our supporting mission organization, has now submitted all the necessary paperwork to become a registered non-profit here in Mozambique. (And everyone shouts “Hooray!”) We will await approval, but in the meantime we can operate as a non-profit until a decision is made. What does this mean for us? Jon and my yearly visas will no longer be listed as volunteers under M.D.I, a sports ministry we’ve been blessed to be covered by since we got here. While we are forever grateful to our partners Jorge and Alice Pratas (M.D.I leaders here), and while we will continue to consider them faithful partners and dear friends, the growth of Casa Ahavá has made it clear we need to officially be our own entity. They have assisted and cheered us on through the entire process. Bless them, Lord Jesus! Also a recognized non-profit in Mozambique we can receive local donations and at some point, Lord willing sooner than later, we hope to be able to purchase and own property as a local charity!

As always, we are so humbled and grateful for your love and support. Casa Ahavá doesn’t run without you.

After a Year

A Jon Post

In April, last year, I got a phone call from the doctor who leads up the Social Services department of the hospital. We had spent years submitting papers, meeting with hospital doctors/leaders/administrators. We wanted to do it right, we wanted to wait for timing and favor to come together so that we could know, know, that it was ready. Last year in April my phone rang. It was a short conversation, by I hung up with a shaking hand. The director of the largest hospital in the country had approved us to partner with the Oncology ward at his hospital and house some of his patients. We called this fledgling project, Casa Ahavá.

It’s been a little over a year since our first patient came to stay with us. We’ve had 7 more since. Each has stayed at least 3 months, some up to 6. Each has become an intimate part of our family for the short time they are here.

Zacarias

Eliza

Tomás

Filomena

Anita

Inês

Pedro

Rosa

And more to come.

I was looking back over our blog and wanted to share something with you… mostly just a bunch of names. I’ve listed these names once or twice before but I wanted to give some scope to what we feel God gave us to do. We arrived here and felt God stir our hearts to minister in this way back in 2009. It’s been almost 5 years since that time and we’ve chronicled a lot of stories we’ve been privileged to know. Most of them are filled with pain. Most, but not all, ended in death.

I know I’ve asked you to pray with us before and I’m asking again. My faith has been growing in regards to prayer recently and I know I don’t do it enough. So I need help. Would you pray with me? Would you pray that we continue to be given the strength to serve?

Below is a list of names of people we’ve met and told a personal story about here on this blog. Don’t go reading all of them. But if you recognize one or two, would you open that story and read it again and pray. Pray that God gives what is needed to invite any future stories like it to share in the story of Casa Ahavá.

Pray with us please.

Emilia 

Joaquim 

José Manuel 

Tomé here and here

Carlotta 

Sobú 

Rosina 

Marcelino 

Joanna 

Lúcia here and here

Rudu 

Esperança 

Jonathan 

Nelson 

Maninha 

Da Luz 

Marta 

Fernando 

Cleo 

Silénçia 

Christino 

Nelsa 

Monica 

António 

Alice 

Nelson 

Moisés 

Edson 

Pedro 

Manuel 

Samuel 

Pedro 

Xavier 

Rosário 

Dosma