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Category: Medical

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.



A Layne Post
img_9865Our Annabella has gone home to her two boys.
I miss her.
I miss playing hopscotch and singing kids songs, yelling “Meow!” at the end and laughing together. I miss her quick hands playing the equivalent of Jacks with stones. She was patient with my uncoordinated swipes and encouraging despite little improvement.

I don’t miss her moaning because of mouth sores, or seeing her throw her head back and wince to swallow a sip of water. I don’t miss seeing her sip porridge because nothing else would go down. I am thankful the side effects to Chemo will fade, but we know the tumor will grow. Pray for the days ahead. Pray that she will be able to maintain some physical comfort. Pray for sweet memories with those she holds dear. Pray for a undeniable presence of Jesus, our Comforter.


img_1141We also received news that Guedez, who was with us for the better part of last year, passed away in July. His brother has been out of the country, which is why he hadn’t been answering our phone calls. We had suspected his death, but the confirmation has allowed for some closure in our hearts. We loved him dearly. He won over everyone he encountered. Seriously, heart of gold. His smile and laugh were absolutely contagious. He suffered a long, long time. I pray he now knows a wholeness he never imagined possible.

Our patient Judite received news that she needs more rounds of Chemo. It was not the news we hoped for, but we are encouraged by the way her body is responding. Pray with us that the next couple of cycles are effective in ridding her body of cancer. Pray for strength of heart as she forges ahead. She has Chemo this week. A specific request is that they will be able to find veins to administer the drip. Her veins are so burnt up they struggle even to draw blood and she usually endures so many pricks.

Another patient, Falgeira, found out that her home up north was robbed and everything was taken. Pray for comfort and peace of mind and heart. Pray for justice. Pray that Jon and I know how to love and support her well in this.

As for happy news, the house is coming along so well and so fast. The Lord and His mercies have been astounding. We are humbled and desire that He receives all glory. We look forward to the unfolding of plans the Lord has for this property.


Our Family Home + Hospice/Guest area


New half of Casa Ahava


Casa Ahava! (as best can fit in the picture)

Thanks for loving and praying with us. We really do cherish your support.

Don’t forget to check the “Pray” section of our website. It is updated each time we post here. Please feel free to ask us to pray for you as well.

Trip to Beira Part 3 – Trusting God With Selah’s Breathing and Jon’s Driving

A Layne Post

This is the conclusion to the story of our time in Beira that we’ve been telling over the last two posts. If you’ve read it all, thanks for your patience and for your time. We feel you are owed all the details we can provide. 

That evening I had another scary time with Selah. Jon called a pediatrician we love and trust in the states, who gave us some advice on things to do. It was good she had no fever still and was eating fine. My 5 month old nephew in America recently had been hospitalized for RSV (a respiratory virus) and  my sister also gave me some symptoms to look for. One main things to watch for was rib retractions, where the skin under the rib curls under with each breath. This means the child is having to use chest muscles to get enough air, and they should not. Selah didn’t have those.

Jon took Selah into a steamy bathroom, and I paced the room praying over my children and their health. I ended up face down, forehead plastered to the hard tile, begging and pleading with the Lord for healing.

When Jon returned I vented some of my frustrations. I felt like this was spiritual attack, but if that were the case, shouldn’t I be able to rebuke sickness and because Jesus is stronger, we should all be healthy in the morning? Jon told me, “Layne, isn’t this what we do? We work with people begging God for healing?” I was getting a very small glimpse of the desperation and frustration that accompanies sickness.

We had a decent night, nothing alarming. I handed Selah to Jon so I could go to the bathroom. He called me back to have a look at Selah and confirm she was having rib retractions. Sure enough, she was. That was it.

It was time to get her seen.

We called Dr. Brian, the missionary doctor working there in Beira. He quickly told us to come up to the central government hospital, where he was working, and he’d have a look and then we’d make a plan.

The big girls were still feverish and tired, and we didn’t want to drag them around a hospital full of more sickness. Thankfully, there was a young missionary family staying next door to us in the guesthouse and the wife graciously came to sit with Anaya and Jovie, while we took Karasi and Selah with us.

We entered the large gate to the central hospital, surrounded by fellow sick Mozambicans waiting for help. We made our way to a bench to wait on our friend, who was currently with a patient. Selah had a large mucus-filled vomit. I was scared. I could not help but think what it would be like for us if Selah were the average Mozambican. Truth is, she’d probably die. It was sobering.

Our friend emerged from the ward and pulled out his stethoscope. My heart was beating quick as I tried not to melt down right then and there.

Her lungs weren’t normal.

We needed to get to Maputo.

First, Dr. Brian recommended we get and x-ray as a marker for comparison when we arrived at the hospital. He looked me in the eye and told be Selah was going to be okay. I cried. With his connections, Dr. Brian got an order written and walked us in and out of the x-ray room within 10 minutes, which is nothing shy of a miracle. The x-ray didn’t show pneumonia. Good news.

I asked Jon if we could fly someone up to help him and the girls get back to Maputo. He called our dear friend Ian.

Ian didn’t even hesitate. Within 1 hour he had dropped everything else he had to do (he helps lead a center for boys who live on the streets of Maputo, and co-runs a thriving business that helps fund that center), and was standing at an airport gate waiting to board the plane to Beira.

I felt a little more at ease knowing Jon would be able to tend to sick girls in the car. Selah’s breathing was stable for the time, and she was peacefully sleeping. We began the run around to get a flight, which proved to be complicated since we didn’t have I.D. for Selah. Finally it was done. We had a ticket for me and Selah at 2pm.

I hated that flight. We had a few scary moments, and I was all too aware that if she stopped breathing that was it. I kept telling the Lord, “Surely you have not brought us this far to have her die on this plane!” When we landed, relief washed over me. By 9 PM we were admitted to a bed getting treatment. Jon even texted with the awesome news that our insurance was going to pay for the flight!

The next four days were spent in that bed, curtained off in a large communal room with two bathrooms to share. It was slow. It seemed every time Selah drifted into peaceful sleep, it was time for another round of some kind of medicine. Listening to regular crying and vomiting from other patients, watching one news channel the entire day was maddening. I missed my family. Visitors were the highlight. Again, it seems almost silly to compare my short comfy experience to theirs, but I was getting a slight glimpse of what the people we minister to experience to a much higher degree. Our patients stay for months. I can only imagine the deep loneliness, frustration, and hopelessness they must feel. On a new level, I am aware of the ministry that we are trying to do – the joy and temporary comfort that can be found in a short visit to break up the monotony of the day.

Jon made it safely home with the girls, but not without his own challenges. The night before the drive Jon’s concern for Jovie was heightened. She hadn’t really eaten in three days and he was having a difficult time getting fluids in her. She was weak and lethargic. He decided he’d see how the first half of the drive went. He’d make the call whether to push through and also get her to Maputo near medical facilities, or if she drank and improved, they could stop and sleep halfway. To add to the challenges, Karasi had also started with a low fever and the nasty congestion.

Thankfully, Jovie began drinking and eating in the car, and so they stopped to rest for the night. That night at dinner she even asked for seconds of chicken and rice, which made everyone terribly relieved. The next day they made the final leg of the trip. Karasi was fairly miserable much of the morning and finally threw up in her car seat. (Extra stars for Jon for cleaning that one up.)

Karasi Wearing Dad's Shirt After Throwing Up on Hers

Karasi Wearing Dad’s Shirt After Throwing Up on Hers

After that, she felt and played better, though still not 100 percent.

We had hopes that Selah and I would be discharged by then and we could be reunited as a family that evening, however, that was not the case. The doctor still heard something in Selah’s lungs. We spent the next two nights in the hospital before finally getting discharged. I left the hospital with a renewed sense of purpose and tank filled with fresh compassion. While the Lord’s plans looked nothing like my own, He remained in control and poured out His graciousness on our family. We don’t deserve health and wellness, but I am grateful for His mercy and His willingness to restore us this time.

Trip to Beira Part 1 – Family as Mission

A Layne Post

Because the story of our Beira trip is long and we feel it is important to tell it in completion, we’ve decided to do a 3-part blog. Stayed tuned every couple days for the next two segments!

Since our first trip to Beira (the capitol of Sofala province about 16 hours north of us when traveled by road, and where most of our patients are from) in December-January of 2012-13, we have longed to go back. It was our desire to make it an annual Heller family trip, as it was a highlight of our ministry and time in Mozambique, following up with patients we had grown to love. 2014, however, did not happen due to the instability of the country during elections and fighting along the only road up north.

But we did not forget.

We settled in our hearts that a trip would be priority for 2015. With a new baby to consider, planning was going to be tricky, but we felt confident it could happen. I wanted Selah to be at least 6 weeks old, so that I would feel comfortable with people holding her and getting to know her, and I wanted her to be young enough to still sleep often during the long car ride. So it was settled – mid-May.

We also knew with 4 kiddos 4 and under the 16 hour drive would need to be broken up. We decided to go more or less half way and spend two nights on the beach, letting the girls frolic and stretch for one whole day, and then continue the rest of the way to Beira. We would do the same on the way home.

In a country where planning ahead is somewhat foreign, we began calling our patients and friends about a week in advance letting them know we were coming and that we would like to see them. We were pretty bummed that Inês had lost her phone a long time ago and we had no contact with her. Sara’s phone also hadn’t worked in months. Even Campande was not answering his phone. This meant there were 3 former Casa Ahavá patients we didn’t know if we would be able to visit. Still, we had people we wanted to see. Regina’s health had taken a turn for the worse and she had been admitted to the hospital, but had a desire to meet Selah. That, in our hearts, was enough to make the trip. Also, Jon needed to do some leg work in person for Benjamin’s house, which had frustratingly come to a standstill.

So we made check lists, piles of supplies and loaded up the van as a family of 6.

Off to Beira.

The drive to a little beach town called Vilanculos, our half-way point, went fabulous. Anaya threw up once, but showed no other signs of ill effect, so we figured it was car sickness. Overall the girls all did better than I could have imagined. The next day they so enjoyed the beach. Anaya kept telling me, “Mama! Jovie and I are having so much fun!”

We felt nice and refreshed ready to make the second push and get to Beira. Again, the girls astounded me. They traveled so well!

The last 120km of the drive is full of pot holes, which had Jon and I wincing and the girls giggling. As we pulled into the guesthouse parking lot, Jon noticed the telltale signs of tire trouble and stuck is head out the window. Flat tire. What grace of God that it had only gone flat then! No changing tires on the side of the road. Hallelujah.

So the girls and I settled in, while Jon put on the spare. As he did, he noticed the other rear tire had considerable damage and it was a miracle that it hadn’t gone flat yet. He called a friend, who recommended some to-go pizzas just up the road from us, and we agreed it sounded good. Jon, Anaya, and Jovie went to get dinner, while Karasi, Selah and I enjoyed some rest and Dora the Expolorer. The girls ate tons and then giggled themselves to sleep in our new “camp house”.

The next morning we were awoken to Jovie thowing up. She was slightly warm, but not hot. We figured it was probably the pizza. We needed to get to a grocery store and have a friend peek at our tires to point us in the right direction for replacements. In the store, Jovie said her tummy hurt. We quickly let our friend look at the tires and headed back to the room to let the girls rest up. Jon got on the phone and started scheduling our days.

Regina was in ICU and asking to see us. Visiting hours were at 1pm. We agreed Jovie wasn’t quite herself, but seemed up for a short visit, and we’d keep her at a distance. We did know it was going to be a challenge to get the girls inside, but Jon has persuasive lips and usually is surrounded with much favor, thanks be to God.

Sure enough he convinced the head nurse to let us bring the girls in one by one and hold them up to the window right next to Regina. So while we would not be able to do a proper visit, Regina would get to see all the girls and most importantly in our hearts, Selah.

I quickly headed in. Selah was awake and happy, which was such a blessing. I held her to the window as Regina waved and I blew kisses. It was a moment I won’t forget, knowing it would be her last time to see my children. Some staff started hollering about a baby being in the ward and a nurse tried to explain our permissions, and I sneaked out. Jon took Karasi in quick and then came a grabbed Jovie. He took a long time, and I knew something was wrong. When he eventually emerged, with tears in his eyes, he said we had to leave and Anaya would not be able to go in. The nurse who had given permission had left and the new staff would not have it.

As gently as possible, we tried to explain to Anaya that we weren’t going to be able to take her in to wave at Tia Regina, even though all her sisters got to go in. I could tell by her face she was bothered, but in her soft 4-year old voice, she whispered, “I’m glad the other girls got to go in.” I choked back tears as I hugged her tight and told her how proud I was of her.

Jovie didn’t throw up for the rest of the day and played nicely on the playground outside our room. That night Anaya and Jovie started with some mucus-y coughs, but nothing alarming, just unfortunate colds. We decided to make it a down day for the girls to hopefully recover as we tried to balance mandated down time with letting them play.

IMAG1026Jon went to get the tires replaced and took a picture of the tire that HADN’T gone flat. It was a miracle we did not have 2 flats on the road! The Lord had been carefully watching over us.

I went at 1 pm to visit and sit with Regina on my own. I got to show her a video of Selah playing. It was a sweet time, though I heard the discouragement in her voice as she told me God had forgotten her. I assured her this was not the case. We prayed and before I left she was again telling me Jesus was there beside her.

That evening Jon was able to meet with a new contractor for Benjamin’s house and felt good about proceeding throughout the week to make things final. What a relief. Benjamin and his family are in desperate need of a place to call their own.

Selah started with some congestion that evening, but no fever. We kept her propped up or held upright through the night to ease her discomfort. Anaya and Jovie continued with a mild cold, feeling tired sometimes and playing other times.

If you made it this far, congratulations on finishing Part 1 of this epic. I know it’s hard to give this much time to something on the Internet so I’m really glad you made it through. Rather than force you to keep reading we will let you rest for the next two days and put Part 2 up on Friday. I hope you have the time to come back and read about how God continued to use our family to His purposes and how He kept teaching us about trusting Him and His hands around us.


Selah Janelle

A Jon Post



Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry.

You are the one we’ve wanted! You are the one we’ve waited for! You are our family’s completion and the reflection of the grace of God!

I’ve waited in this room before. I’ve held her sweating hand, eel-writhing in pain, before. I’ve wondered at the sin-curse, the soul-creation, the bloodwaterfire, lifegift of this miracle.

I’ve seen her closed eyes, her whispered prayers, her steelrope tight muscles.

Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry.

Bursting forth like drum beats in the mountains

Called to the now in thunderous echoes of pain and passion

Waterfalls of agony and wonder, chaotic emotions like spider webs, silken, gorgeous and terrifying.

Don’t tarry my daughter, don’t tarry!

Yelling out her solo hymn of laborpain, my beloved heaves the weight and the urge to stop back at the liar who tells her she hasn’t the strength.

Aweful, awesome, my eyes deadlocked on the miracle of selfgiving displayed in blood and trust before me in a hospital labor and delivery room.



Now, screaming down this mountain with no brakes, ripping through the waves of anguish, my beloved holds her head high and gives her body to her daughter.




Stop… stop… reflect on this.


God, has been gracious.

March 27, 2015