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Category: Hospital Ministry

Trembling Hands


A Jon Post

For the second time in as many days I’ve held trembling hands in mine and given the news that all is not well.

Fingernails scratched against the concrete walls of cancer while her tears stained her face and I sat with an x-ray in my hand.

X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans and scribbled doctors notes on paper all telling us that pain will only increase and rest will only flee frail bodies.

There I sat with an x-ray in one hand and her trembling hand in the other.

Last night a different hand but equally as precious lay limp in mine as I repeated the CT scan results about a 6 centimeter tumor eating at liver tissue and causing the growing pain in her abdomen. A cancer that grew with a placenta and a new life inside a swollen mothers belly took the life of that baby months ago and now gnaws at the mother’s liver splashing malignant cells around her body like dirty grey paint.

And her limp hand sat in mine while I pleaded internally with a silent God to give words where mine failed.

I heard none.

An ironic smile appeared on this orphaned-of-her-child mother’s face and she acknowledged the inability in our lungs and vocal cords to blow or shout against this cold wind that cannot be warded off with blankets and grows equally difficult to guard against with chemotherapeutic treatments.

Prayers fell in Portuguese like wounded sparrows from my lips and fell, splat, splat, splat, on this chipped tile floor in front of the bed we sat on.

This silent God once promised He cares for those sparrows and that not one of them falls to the ground unless He knows about it.

Maybe he caught the ones that fell last night but didn’t tell me.

The dark glass that we see through seemed especially dark last night as I hurled my prayers against it and succeeded in shattering only the glass yet not the darkness.

My wife picked up the pieces of this broken window of prayer and held them tight while finishing the plea to a Savior who weeps. I watched in silence marveling that, though so little light pierced through the hole where the glass once hung, how brightly shone that broken glass in the hands of a broken person.

We waited for I do not know what, sat and looked into frightened eyes, then put our children to sleep.

My daughter at bedtime thanked God for flowers and butterflies and in the same breath asked God to help the owner of those trembling hands to rest well. More shattered glass cut its way down my cheeks and I wondered if the faith of a child could be so much more than mine.

I live next to death like he could come over and ask me to borrow an egg or some flour or the soul of a sick friend, and yet each time he closes the gap between us only seems to make me more weary of his presence instead of accustomed to it.

I’ve never looked him in the eye myself but I’ve seen his reflection shining in the wet eyes of too many of my friends here.

And now his reflection looks back at me from two more sets of eyes.

Oh, Silent God.

Speak now.


Dusty Shoes and a Copper Ring

A Jon Post

Here I am again sitting on this worn green bench in the shade of a 6:30 AM pre-summer morning. “Oncology Service” hangs written in red block letters on the large sign hanging above the door, announcing in stark honesty the tools used to hold back tides of uncontrolled, malignant cell division.

I’ve spent more hours in these halls than I can count.

Here weariness lays on beds like thin white sheets, bleached and stretched and covering sick bodies in its embrace.

Here joy is eked out like a spoon of sugar in morning tea poured in to cover the bitterness of the dark, hot liquid, but as of late, too often forgone because there is just not enough in this hospital to go around.

Here tears are the dusty shoes we walk around in… ignored, expected, necessary to walk these corridors of pain and medicine.

This morning those shoes are worn by an old man in a thin blue windbreaker. The morning is murderously hot and humid but he clutches his windbreaker tight against his back, pulling it taught around his heaving shoulders.

Today he wears these tired shoes along with the large copper wedding ring on the hand he is using to wipe away his own unrelenting tears.

The woman for whom he wears that ring had lain in a bed here in this Oncology Service under her thin, bleached weariness for the last several weeks trying to find some sugar to flavor her tea.

This morning the hours I’ve spent here lay heavy on me.

Psalm 56:8I’ve seen so many Creator-image-bearers wear those dusty shoes that I’ve forgotten how precious they are in His sight.

This morning the Angel of Death stung the wife of the image-bearer and he put on his shoes and wept.

I’ve seen those shoes walk these halls often, even worn them myself many times.

But I’d forgotten their worth.

Now a copper ring, because cancer comes to the copper wearers more often than the gold and platinum wearers, shines bright on a shaking finger.

A husband weeps on a rickety green bench for a wife stung by the reason creation groans for redemption. The Angel of Death came for the copper-wearer’s wife and offered him those dusty shoes to help walk these grey halls of pain. And I sit in witness of the shoe-wearer.

Too often I’ve forgotten how valuable those shoes are. I’ve forgotten my Savior wore them often. He wore them when he heard his friend died. He wore them when he prayed in a garden. He wore them when he walked up a hill.

We have His promise that he’ll take those shoes and burn them one day. But until then, they can help us walk these halls.

The Work is Not Yet Finished

A Jon Post

I met a young mother in the hospital last week. I was there preparing to bring four OTHER women into Casa Ahavá and one of the oncologists pulled me into the conference room and told me about this woman with breast cancer.

“Can you take her too?” asked the oncologist.

“I’ve no space” came my tired and overused reply.

But I found myself walking the hallway to this young mother’s room anyway. I found myself at the foot of her bed, opening her file, seeing the familiar doctor scrawl across the “diagnosis” line, and feeling the familiar drop in my chest as I read what I already knew;

Breast cancer.

She was on the phone with her daughter when I came in.

Her daughter is 7 years old.

I heard the joy and pain in her voice as she asked how her daughter was doing in school and if she was obeying her grandmother. I heard her end the phone call with the tired lie “I will be home soon.”

I asked her about her daughter she immediately told me of her wonderful little girl and how much she misses her. How long it’s been since she was with her and how important it is for her to be in her school.

Unspoken but understood was the fear that she may not see her daughter again.

Unspoken but understood was the resignation to the pain of chemotherapy and its unrelenting assault on a body already broken by cancer.

Now she sits in front of me in a hospital bed, pleading for mercy and a bed in my home and I tell her, “Wait, sister. Wait. The work is not yet finished.”

Riverbeds carved in flesh from tears and the secretions of necrotic wounds mark her cheeks and her side, and she nods her head in understanding.

She will endure.

She will wait.

She has no other options.

Her far away home offers witchcraft and lies as a cures for splitting DNA and cells with too many nuclei that multiply and multiply and poison her blood and her lymphatic system. Witchcraft chants and smelly herbs in a dark mud hut and a man dressed in traditional clothing promised her the mass of tissue swelling in her breast would reduce and she gave him her money and her soul and she left feeling empty and used.

Here at the hospital a combination of Fluorouracil, Cisplatin, and pain drip into her swollen forearm. They promise tumor reduction, dead DNA strands, halted cell division, nausea, Nephrotoxicity, loneliness, depression, and homesickness.

“Wait, sister. Wait. The work is not yet finished.”

I stare at my hands after I’ve uttered those words and wonder if there can be any comfort in them.

I have four women staying in my home and I’ve promised beds to two others.

And this sister looks at me and asks for rescue from the bed she sits on. Rescue from a bed covered in old white sheets, stained with blood, vomit and emotions.

“We are building a home for you my sister.”

Next week we will open the ground of our 40×45 meter square of dirt and begin laying sand, stones, and concrete into it so that this dear sister can come and live here too.

Last week we invited four women out of the hospital into Casa Ahavá and I met 4 others whom I could not invite.

We are building a home. I hope it finishes soon.

News Around Here

A Layne Post

If you guys went to visit our last blog post, you noticed the new look to our website. You may or may not have noticed all the new features, so I am going to highlight a couple for you. The main changes are under the “Pray” section. There are five options. Our hope is that you will be able to feel more connected as a team member and be able to pray more effectively for our project and our patients. Under the option “Pray for a Patient” we will weekly highlight a specific patient and their current needs, sometime even past patients that we remain connected with in their homes. Under the option “Pray for Our Family” we will post personal prayer needs for Jon and me and the girls. Under the option “Pray for Casa Ahavá” we will keep updated which patients are living with us, their needs, and needs within their little community. There is also an option “Ask Us to Pray for You”. We hope you’ll take advantage of this one. It is an opportunity for us to stay connected with YOU and your life and needs. It is an honor for us to be a part in such a way. The last option is super cool. it is the “30 Day Prayer Guide”. It is a static guide that doesn’t change, but gives you daily focus points to pray along side us. So, look around! Take part!

We also have some huge news! We have been wading through the process of getting our building permit here. For various, very normal reasons, things were moving slow. The paper process is just a slow one here and we knew that going into this. The Lord had really brought peace to our hearts, Our Projectknowing He had perfect timing for the expansion of Casa Ahavá. Then out of nowhere, God connected Jon with the right people at the municipality and things began to move. When I say move, I mean fly! One specific engineer liked the vision of the project, took it under her wing, and personally made it her mission to get us to where we are today – our project and all it’s plans (topographical plans, architectural and structural plans, building estimate, etc) are officially submitted and awaiting our permit. We have been warned this process could take from two weeks to one year. But do you know what? The connection God made… is one of the two people who approve the project for building. She said our permit will be out this week! Our contractor is ready to start Monday! In reality, it may take a few more days, but it is absolutely amazing! To God be the glory. The project is estimated to finish in 8 months. Please pray with us that Gods hand remains on every step. These time frames are, of course, not guarantees, but we hope and pray that they are realities.

Future BedsIn other news, our family is making a quick trip to South Africa this weekend to gather supplies for Casa Ahavá to officially reopen next week and to spend some time with dear friends to refresh our souls and prepare for the busy exciting season ahead. We are making some changes around Casa Ahavá, too. We are getting rid of our queen and double mattresses and getting all twins, creating space for 6 patients. Jon is busy this week making the 6 bed frames and drawers that will come with us to the new house. It is a small increase, from 4 to 6, but will give us a little glimpse into life serving more. Pray with us about which patients will come to live with us, as there are more than we can house waiting at the hospital.

Casa Ahavá VanAnd while everything is changing, so are our vehicles! We found out a bit before going to the States that the van we had been driving required a special license; it is twelve passenger van. We were initially told otherwise, but alas, it is true, our licenses do not cover above 9 passengers. We bought the van before we knew we were expanding with the idea that we could fit our entire family plus patients. With the expansion, however, this just isn’t possible. So, after talking with the Voices of the World board, we decided we should downsize and then buy a 3rd vehicle, one specifically for Casa Ahavá. We were able to buy locally a van equipped with a handicap chair, which will be awesome for our project. We are also in the process of ordering a family van and importing from Japan. We hope to be able to sell the twelves passenger van for near the same price of the two new vans put together. God is good!

Our hearts are anxious and ready for the next phase. Our girls are ready for new Tias and Tios (Aunties and Uncles) to join us. Anaya has been drawing up her own house plans, which always includes space for our patients. I love that they get to be a part of this with us!

Anaya    Jovie

Karasi  Selah





Casa Ahavá Re-Opens!

A Layne Post

I remember the first morning without patients. We had temporarily closed Casa Ahavá so that we could adjust to being a family of 6, and our home felt so empty. I woke up to make coffee, glanced out the kitchen window and mourned not having anyone out there to check on.

But time passed by, as it does. Selah was born, and our lives adjusted once more. I became accustomed to Jon having a bit more time, him being around every morning when we woke up, having a predictable schedule, and having our evenings all to ourselves. There was a certain ease in that lifestyle that I enjoyed.

We took our trip up north, which went much different than expected, and then decided to give ourselves a week to recover from sickness. Finally the time had come to talk with the hospital staff about which patients would be good candidates for our project. I knew the day was approaching for another transition – the need to readjust to full time ministry from our home. I felt a bit nervous and apprehensive about life with four little ones, homeschooling, managing patients in the home, being constantly on-call, etc. Honestly, the selfish side of me wanted to hold on to the new easier life because, well, it was easier. But the part of me that knows Christ, knows that easier doesn’t mean happier and that there is a joy found in a life of service that cannot be attained in any other way.

After a few false starts, two ladies were set to move in – Melinha and Maria. On the day they were coming, I put a big  beef stew in the crockpot and tidied up the house. Jon ran out to their kitchen to make sure that things were ready. He happened to touch an appliance while out there and received a wicked shock. After touching one more thing and getting shocked yet another time, he concluded something was not grounded well. He called an electrician who could not come until the next day and so move-in day got postponed. It was frustrating.

The next day I turned on my crockpot again and filled it with beans. Maybe this day would actually go as planned. I got a call from Jon at the hospital and sure enough Melinha and Maria were coming, but so was a lady named Fruta, who was done with treatment and only waiting on transport the next week. No problem. I knew Fruta and liked her a lot.

They arrived, settled into their rooms, met our big ol’ dog Gasher, saw the markets on our road, and were ready to start life at Casa Ahavá.

Our home feels full again and our girls content to run around and giggle with the “ladies” out back. Just yesterday Jovie told me how she had eaten earlier with the ladies. I wondered if it was true or a part of my girls’ grand imaginative lives. Turns out it was true. Anaya and Jovie were happy to go sit in the kitchen and eat up the yummy traditional Mozambican food that their Tias had made.

I had no reason to be nervous. I love what we do, yes, even with the extra work and responsibility. Our lives are richer this way.

This is Fruta. Last night she boarded a bus and headed home, finally finished with her treatment. We were blessed to host her for a short stay, but excited for her to re-join her 3 children at home. She was easy going and the most comfortable of the group in our home. Let’s pray for an easy trip and for continued health.



This is Melinha. She will be here another week and a half. Fruta was her best friend, and I am sure she will be missing her. She is spunky and animated – full of facial expressions. She doesn’t speak Portuguese very well and we don’t speak the language where she is from up north, so it is comical at times, but we are managing with special thanks to the other patients for translating.



This is Maria. She has almost five more months with us. She is a hard worker and self-motivated. We knew her the least before coming to our home, but she has been nothing but delightful. She has five children at home, the youngest one is only one year old. I know it is difficult for her to be so far. We will try and send her home for a visit after another two treatments.



We have another two ladies in the line up to come and one man, who is set to come after his next treatment. We were encouraged that the hospital seemed as excited for us to restart as we were, and multiple people expressed that our absence was felt in the ward. The staff has been so supportive and helpful as we fill up our space here. We thank God for the partnership we have. To Him be the glory!