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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 

Overcomer

A Layne Post

I found myself frustrated.

Jon took off Pedro’s bandage and for the first time in 4 years I felt that familiar wave come over me.
Woozy.
I quickly made an excuse to go to the kitchen and left Jon to continue cleaning and changing the bandage. I stood there in the kitchen with Karasi on my hip determined this would not win. Hadn’t God done such a transformation in me? I often testify to His graces that I am able to see and visit some patients with large tumors or wounds; however, hands on involvement was proving to be a whole new level. I got some fresh air and returned to look and conquer this involuntary feeling. I managed.

The rest of the day I wondered if I would ever be able to do wound care. I was jealous of Jon’s “dive in” mentality and his courage to do what was set before him. In faith that afternoon I told our new patient Rosa that if she would like some help with her bandage the next morning, I could help. She had previously said she could do it, so I expected a “no thanks” and not the enthusiastic “yes please!” I actually got.

“Phew. Here we go,” I thought.

I had a serious conversation with the Lord that evening. I begged, yes, begged the Lord to give me courage and to calm this silly tummy. I was desperate to serve our patients in this way, but I was going to need some supernatural intervention.

The next morning came and there with knees bent before Rosa, I did my first day of wound care and while the wounds were worse than expected, I continued without the slightest flutter of my tummy. Hallelujah. He overcame.

I quickly decided that if I was going to do this, by golly I wanted to do it well. So, thanks to much research, reading, and study (thank you Google machine) I feel like I have learned how to work with the supplies we have and care well for the wounds Rosa has. Would you believe that I now am anxious each morning to take off the bandage and gauge our progress? I actually find it extremely satisfying to see a nice clean wound! Miracles happen, my friends, miracles happen.

What sweet intimate conversations are possible during these times of dressing changes. They have becomes little gifts to me – these moments on my knees whispering hope to a sick, sick friend.

Oh Jesus, thank you for being my Overcomer.

 

Below are some pictures from our recent beach day! Enjoy.

 

 

 

Learning to Create Family Out of Brokenness

A Jon Post

There is much brokenness here. There are broken families, broken spirits, broken bodies and broken hearts. We swim in it.
One shares about a faithless husband who brought a deadly virus into the bed with him which only adds to the mountain that she must climb to find health…
here is brokenness…

Rosa

Rosa

One shares about the family that sent her away because they were afraid of her cancer and her tumor, thinking it was infectious and that the plague of cancer must be driven from their house…
here is brokenness…
One shares of a child not 5 months gone… lost to malaria, tuberculosis, or some other preventable sickness… and now cancer is ravaging the child’s mother…
here is brokenness…
One shares of a 6 year old son who misses his father beyond words… and while the father sits in my back yard his little son cries out to his mother to please let me talk to daddy on the phone first!!!
here is brokenness…

But there is still life.

There is life when Anita comes out of her room singing praises to God in the morning.
There is life when Pedro plays checkers with me and doesn’t want to stop.
There is life when Inês laughs.
There is life when Rosa finds her appetite again.

Though these small things seem inconsequential and minor in comparison to the agony that threatens… these humble signs of life are the driftwood that we find in this tempest of cancer.

Pedro

Pedro

 

So this is our broken little family; Jon, Layne, Anaya, Jovie, Karasi, Anita, Inês, Pedro, Rosa and Gasher.

Pedro and Rosa just joined it last week.

We need help.

Our family is running out of money. Pedro and Rosa both need some special care (they both have open wounds that we clean and dress every day) and that only adds to the speed that our bank accounts are drying up.

We need help.
I know there are a lot of people who read this blog and pray for us. The biggest focus of this blog is to keep those who already DO give to us informed and to try to help them feel a part of what is happening here with Casa Ahavá. But beyond that, I know that there are many people who read this who haven’t given.

Please. We need help.

Family Dinner Time

Family Dinner Time

Would you share this on your social networks, tell your friends, tell your church, try to find someone who can do what we cannot: Fund this thing.

We need about $1000 more per month to keep this family going.

We will continue to try to be the hands God uses to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

Would you help those hands keep working?

To those of you who are already helping; thanks. We really, really, really do know how much of a sacrifice it is. We do. It’s not small. It’s not forgotten.

Thank you.

Life

Life