‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be nor more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’
Room 205 was a welcome sight. Visits, conversations, penetrating my thoughts. My mind racing as I made my way down the corridor. ‘Lord, these waves are too high, I am sinking, I’m going to capsize’. Overwhelmed with the fast flowing floods of suffering of those I had left behind, hope gone, the tempestuous winds blowing with great adversity, alone with the anguish of their personal trial, their hearts crushing beneath the pain. Frail bodies (wasting away), voices so weak they reach out just to touch your hand. Is it enough, is it over (for me) when I ‘share a moment’; ‘spend an evening’; ‘show I care’? It can never be over, my heart needs to be fixed, to be settled, even though I question, my faith, my trust will know His leading. Oh the impact, the tranquillity of a loving word, but more importantly, a living word that will cause them to know in their hearts that the Lord is the source and the God of all comfort. I thought of Job: ‘And after my skin is destroyed, this I know that in my flesh I shall see God,’ Job 19: 26. They not only need ‘Daily Bread’; they need ‘The Bread of Life’.
Each step of this mission trip seems to be another step into a wilderness of hardship and distress, yet with each new morning I am surrounded by a love that is higher than any other, bringing peace and calmness to my aching heart but more importantly, giving me the ‘much needed’ strength to continue to ‘rebuild’. Perhaps today a tiny pebble will suffice, yet tomorrow a larger stone may be required. But there is one chief cornerstone whose building will never crumble but will stand for eternity. Oh that I could catch His passion, His vision for the lost and dying, surely out of these deep roots of decay, withered briers, I can plant a rose of beauty for others. ‘In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert,’
My heart is completely thrown into this work, even though I die inside as each ‘case study’ no, forgive me, each beloved brother, sister or little one, pulls at my heart strings. But I must needs go by with a selfless love. There in the corner of a tiny room, a white haired, elderly gentleman, head bowed, sat on the edge of his bed, waiting quietly and in trust for our visit. I knelt down beside him and touched his hand, he smiled, but still his head remained bowed, in fact bowed down with pain. It was a beautiful day outside but there was no rainbow filling this room. Joseph developed a facial melanoma which has now affected the complete right side of his face, ear and eye, he is now totally blind. He tried to speak, seeking reassurance of Heaven. (Joseph recently came to know the Lord through his illness). Daria and I shared with him, telling him ‘Heaven is not here but soon you will be finally ‘Home’. His pain level is extremely high, yet he never complains, you can feel his weak frame tighten when the pain is too much to bear. This image remains in my heart and his name is whispered in my waking hours. He has been baptised (at home) and Daria is arranging for students from Emanuel to come and sing to him. But we know very soon Joseph will be joining the throngs singing in Heaven.
‘Hello, Hello’ we called through the gate. No one at home? Now, what is the best plan of action? Steps? Yes, we could hear slow steps coming our direction. Theodore knows the anguish of pain in his own life as he is suffering from lung cancer and bone metastasis, his wife of forty eight years died several weeks ago from a severe heart attack. ‘Who is going to care for me now?’ Is so much pain necessary in the life of one person?’ His pain is deep and personal, he is totally lost in his thinking and in his heart. As I sat quietly in the corner of his garden, I thought of the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, lost, but there was one who was willing to seek until found to run to forgive. It is going to be a long walk ‘Home’ for Theodore but we must continue to show him the way. Two village ladies joined us – one dressed in black, she too knew the depth of pain and sorrow as she has just lost her son. ‘I am very sick, why can you not help me?’ she asked. The other elderly lady quietly smiled, wrapping her arms around me. My recent visits are composed of ‘prodigals’ – They must needs go ‘Home’ by the way of the cross.
‘Do you only speak English?’ asked a young boy of nine. Before I could answer he proudly recited ‘My name is Alex and I am nine’. ‘Bravo, bravo’. Alex has just lost his father four weeks ago, Robert (44) suffered from lung cancer and was in the care of Emanuel Hospice. I could see clearly the depth of pain as Anca his mother entered the room. She tried to smile through her tears, still trying to understand why. She is filled with a sense of ‘oneness’ ‘I am only thirty seven, how will I, how can I’. Her mind filled with constant turmoil of providing food, wood for a cold Romanian winter … I reminded myself that it is my responsibility to share my bread with the hungry and to cover them practically from a heart of sincerity not an act or activity to boost my ego but one that will leave the mark of showing the love of God. ‘Please, will you come back again?’ Anca asked, ‘Yes, please do come again’, shouted Alex. ‘See you soon’. They waved from the shelter of their front door of the block of Communist flats.
‘Monika, I think I was in this village last week?’ I asked. ‘Yes, Sister Shirley, but we are going again, you need to see another family’. The village of Osorhei is on the outskirts of Oradea where the Roma community are housed. The Lingurar family attend the local Pentecostal Church. They have five children (two married) Samuel (10), Rahela (9) and Debora (5) attend the village school although experience learning disabilities. Sandu (39) and his wife Reghina (38) are loving and caring parents. Five years ago they received a bank loan in order to build a small home (they did not have legal papers for the land). The state have now commenced building blocks of apartments and this family will lose their home but still have five years remaining on their bank loan. (They have £23 per person on a monthly basis. The bulldozers were approaching the fence of their home as I left – they have two choices: to move with the Roma community further into the forest area or rent a one roomed apartment from the State.
Ineu will always be a special village for me As I passed the home of my late friend Dorina, memories flooded my heart, memories of a loving home, times (not so long ago) we shared friend with friend. Dorina was always interested in the everydayness of life, telling me about her husband Nelu selling milk, etc; and asking ‘what is your husband doing today?’ ‘How many hours do you have for me to tell you’ I would say, I can see and hear her laughing. The home I was about to enter (within minutes) – was somewhat different. ‘Sister Shirley, I cannot recognise the door where this lady will be today’ Estera said. ‘Ah there she is’. A very frail lady, came running down the dusty road, waving. ‘We have found you’ we shouted, Sister Anna was more interested in opening the back of the van for the food we had purchased in Oradea; she was hungry. At present Anna is living with her two brothers (one mentally ill). It is not possible for her to remain at home, she is afraid, and feels safe, protected living in a small shed in the yard, with her brothers. The conditions are unimaginable and if honest, unacceptable. No running water, lack of food, comfort ….. Please pray for this precious lady, she has suffered much through bowel cancer and abuse, she will undergo surgery on Monday. Before leaving, we gave her two ‘Disney Frozen’ Backpacks for her granddaughters. The smile on her wrinkled, pale face was enough. Thank you ladies.
The story of God’s great love for ‘These My Little Ones’ is unending, it is a continuous journey of hope. I am sure you remember little Dada (4) waiting in Timisoara for her bone marrow transplant, her mother receiving the devastating news ‘there was no hope’, the donor was only 80%. The dedicated determination of Emanuel Hospice with Estera taking the case to the Town Hall… God has made a way and Dada’s journey continues. She is now in Italy (with Denisa) waiting for a bone marrow transplant from a donor (100%). The surgery would have already taken place but the little one fell and broke her arm. Dada’s storybook will have further volumes in the will and plan of God.
“Sometimes life is so hard you can only do the next thing. Whatever that is just do the next thing. God will meet you there.” Elizabeth Elliot
Please pray that God will meet and go with me as I visit the Centre in Cighid, Approximately 50 Adult Disabled Orphans are sheltered safely there. Also a forthcoming visit to Dumbrava Rose where 150 homeless people receive shelter from the cold streets of Romania.
Shirley, 22nd October, 2017
Note: A separate update outlining the arrival of the 45ft lorry and Therapy Room has been issued