Walking by faith
Mauvirine Sorrell walks around Buckner Parkway Place in Houston for exercise. Due to some medical issues, she's limited to moving around inside. She's accepted that and cherishes it. Each stride is a step in faith – a manner of journeying with which she's well acquainted.
The Parkway Place resident's faith has taught her lessons and carried her through tough times throughout her life. Her daughter Nancy was 23 years old when she was diagnosed with one of 300 cases off a rare type of cancer. Eleven years later, Nancy passed away.
"Nancy left me a legacy," the Houston native says. "You never expect your daughter to have cancer or to go first. When Nancy had it, she told [a reporter] one time, 'Take advantage of everything cancer has to offer you. It will give you a chance to challenge yourself and find the limits of your strength and your faith. And you will have an opportunity to get to know a whole new group of people whose lives are filled with trauma, sadness, and then you can bring hope and joy to them, by sharing your Christian faith and giving them a chance to fight this disease. You can find out just how special each moment and person can be.'”
Sorrell honored her daughter's life by volunteering at the South Main Baptist Church apartments for cancer patients, where they were members. She answered the phone, helped people move in and helped refurbish the apartments.
Later, her husband Sam was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and then prostate cancer. For three months, the Sorrells became residents of the apartments where Mauvirine volunteered.
Through it all, the couple leaned on each other and God. "You know, many couples when they go through a child having difficulty, they divorce or have problems or something. But truly, it brought us closer together. And it brought us closer to the Lord, through all of that."
The Sorrells moved in to Parkway Place in 2007, something they felt God orchestrated as well. Once there, Mauvirine says they found “wonderful Christian community.”
As Sam’s health declined, he moved into skilled nursing. He and Mauvirine still went to Bible study and Sunday school together. He passed away in December 2010.
“We have such support here because this is a faith-based place. You’ve got friends who are prayer warriors, you have friends who are caregivers who help you. Everybody is willing to serve in their special way.”
The next April, doctors discovered Mauvirine had ovarian cancer. Mauvirine took it in stride. She knew there was a purpose behind each of her trials.
For a year, Mauvirine underwent chemotherapy – 12 shots every 28 days. It took its toll on her body but she persevered. At her most recent check-up, the doctor told her there was no new disease. Mauvirine asked if she would need more chemotherapy. The doctor told her she didn’t even need to be on medication.
At that moment, she knew God again walked her through the trial and gave her “another chance. I just look at Him and say I know He has a purpose for me each day."
Mauvirine's route around Parkway Place enables her to connect with others. She has discovered a faithful community of support, and they have discovered her. They encourage and inspire each other. They care for each other.
She feels it’s a part of her Christian ministry to help her neighbors as well. Mauvirine finds she tends to cross paths with people who have been where she’s been. She has a friend at Parkway who recently found out her daughter’s cancer reappeared. As a mother who lost her daughter to cancer, she can relate and encourage her friend.
"I think it’s in 1 Corinthians where it talks about how we suffer because God leads us to know how to comfort others," she says. "He comforts us. We can learn how to comfort others as we go through this. And we also learn that we can’t do it, we have to trust in God and lean on Him, all the way. And then thirdly, that we can give thanks to Him, which is so wonderful."