When I first met Ana Beiba, she had one house, a none-too-large terraced house, in which she looked after about 55 old people, whose lives otherwise would have been living under bridges, fly-overs, anywhere where there was a little shelter. Ana went to hospitals to ‘rescue’ old folk who were no longer able to pay their medical bills, scour the streets for others (not too difficult to find them in this city), and take in elderly people whose families either couldn’t afford to keep them anymore, or simply didn’t want them. She washed laundry by hand for all her ‘babies’ as she calls them, cooked on one propane gas ring, and ha no fridge, freezer, washing machine…and all her folk smelt ‘freshly laundered’ with no ‘old people’s home’ smell anywhere in the house.
That first visit was emotional, to say the least. Even more so, because it was crystal clear that she loved those people utterly. Even MORE so, because then, in 2011, she herself was under a death sentence: 2 months to live, with a massive brain tumour. Ana, falling to her knees and clutching my thighs, weeping, as I asked if we could pray for her, was even more emotional. That day, she felt the tumour leave her head, and she was healed.
The story since then is known to many of you reading this. She now has two houses and some commercial-sized appliances,thanks to the kindness of people back home in the United Kingdom. And 92 elderly people now constitute her family. The second house is structurally sound to have two more floors above the single-storey house, and that would ‘up’ her capacity to 200. For her, it’s an absolute impossibility, as has everything that kind people have helped her with. The two floors she’s already had an architect design: and she has budgeted the whole project, even though she knows she can’t do it, but trusts God to help. The two floors will cost 70,000,000 Colombian pesos: sounds horrendous, huh? But it’s around £25,000 / US$39,000 /AU$42,000…..to get another 100+ literally endangered old folk off the streets.
We went to see her again today – she’d been out when we called last week. The welcome, the hugs strong enough to break your neck, nose, and suffocate you, are indelibly burned into my mind and heart. Today, the emotion was ratcheted up a few more levels…. Something wasn’t right. Her voice was weaker than usual, and I asked her if she’d got a recurrence of the cancer again: a friend had a dream in which she saw Ana with cancer.
- She has: or, rather, she had. This time, in her throat, and she wept as – like last time – she told me of her joy of going to heaven to see Jesus, but her fear of what would happen to her old folk. We prayed for her: again, she was on her knees, weeping. And her voice, and the strained complexion of her face, both changed. She felt the blockage in her throat go, and then began to sing as only she can, and knows she was healed…. this video clip is worth watching, honestly:
She wouldn’t let go of me: hugging, crying, laughing, singing, praying, thanking God…. it really is an experience I’d love everyone to have. What it did today was make me feel that I have to at least try to get the money for the new building work, as the enemy is clearly on her case, and she’s a threat to him, hence the return of the cancer. This is on the wall in her own ‘personal’ little room:
In English (it doesn’t translate well with Google!):
- Do NOT give up
stay on your feet
remember that God gives the most difficult battles to his BEST soldiers
Ana is one of the most remarkable, amazing people I’ve ever met, and I’ve met quite a few amazing people. A new arrival came this morning, and then, while we were there, the city authorities arrived with another lady, Rosita, for Ana to care for. She’s fast running out of space.
We left totally in awe, overwhelmed by her love, God’s love through her, her determination, and her strength. I can’t actually write any more tonight, as tears just won’t go away as I think of this morning…