Are there limits?’

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord’ 1 Cor 15:58.

‘Are there limits?’ My response matters!  At 4am, alone in my study, sipping a hot cup of tea, I thought of those who sadly are not exempt from the heartaches of this world, those who trust ‘The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight’.

 No one likes to wait, we are busy, we have our planned agenda, targets to meet. I am a list maker, my ‘things to do’ list outline responsibilities and things I want to accomplish each day.  We all differ, I have everything in its place and a place for everything.  Yet, on many occasions, the Lord in his love, interrupted my thinking or changed my plans.  Times when during the waiting, I would have much preferred to move forward, times when I walked a continual road of darkness rather than a preferred path of light.  How I thank the Lord for teaching me to be still in a non-stop world. A world filled with the everyday business of life, where days are so full there is no time to be still.  A text dear to my heart: ‘Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out’.  Reflecting on the story of Ruth, admiring her faithful dedication to her mother-in-law who had suffered great and personal loss, I thought of those who feel the inner pangs of loneliness, who through the pain of loss, embrace emptiness as their everyday companion.   They live in a house filled with silence and memories, longing for the telephone to ring; perhaps that the empty mailbox would contain a letter.  During the early days of widowhood, I found my own silence deafening. 

There is no limit to loving and how we respond really does matter.  It does not require extravagance, just a small token or a thoughtful gesture is all that is needed.  I smile as I think of the small things in life; bunches of crushed dandelions, wilting buttercups or daisy chains, all given with love and simplicity from little hands that had nothing else to offer.  The beauty of God’s handiwork whether in the form of a perfect rose or a sad little dandelion assures us that love is gentle, love is kind.

Be still, my soul, The Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently, the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God, to order and provide
In every change, He faithful will remain
Be still, my soul, thy best thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways, leads to a joyful end.

I find it difficult to grasp that certain qualities of my life are not those of the Roma girls who are regarded by many as coming from a low position simply because they do ‘menial work’.  As I greet a new day my prayer is that my ‘Servant Heart’ may be open to listen to all, regardless of background or position and if I so possess the heart of a true Servant, I must be willing to serve those who are not admired but rather isolated.  As I write to you, I am challenged and hit hard by a lesson in reality.  I invite you to enter the lives of these teenagers and young women who struggle, battle broken relationships, sadness, disappointments and hope one day their problems will vanish.   Life has caused many to become resilient to their hardships.  Would we want or even choose this life?  Methinks not, but we can build a bridge of hope and trust.

GEANINA (16) is the mother of a beautiful baby girl (sixteen months).  Geanina is pregnant again. In her heart she longs for a secure place to call home and filled with the qualities we read in Galatians 5: 22-23.  Her first reaction was one of panic where she felt unable to keep this second baby.  We thank the Lord after much thought, Geanina has decided to keep her child; another saved life.  Now we pray that this teenage mum will come to know the Lord as her Saviour as we continue to support her and her little ones.

ANA, another sixteen-year-old girl who gave birth to a baby boy eight weeks ago.  The father abandoned them, leaving Ana alone with her baby and her elderly mother.  Ana’s mother is in deep poverty, living in unimaginable conditions.  She wants to support her daughter in rearing this little one.  Ana and her mother have asked Iochebed if they could assist by supplying dried milk, baby clothes, pampers.  A poverty-stricken family, a beautiful baby boy forsaken by his father, deeply wounded by disappointments, lost opportunities are gone forever.  When the Lord asks us to do ‘something’ he makes a way.  God opened his storehouse to meet this need in touching hearts by divine appointment.  Iris, who lovingly fills three boxes of new children’s clothing every year. Tony supplied two boxes of pampers and Eileen filled three surprise boxes.  Are there any limits?

PETRONELA has just given birth to her sixth child. In a previous blog we informed you Petronela was suffering from Hepatitis B; therefore, the baby had to be vaccinated immediately after birth.  The baby was underweight and very weak, crying twenty-four hours each day, resulting in a hernia; the baby is now waiting for surgery.

MARTA (21) has two children aged four and two.  She is now into her second month of pregnancy with her third child and is feeling overwhelmed.  Her little son of four years old has severe health issues and is waiting on a hospital appointment for further investigations.

ANI is the young mother of four children.  Her baby girl of fifteen months has serious health issues as for several months now she has begun to lose consciousness.  This little one is also waiting further investigations.

Another five teenage and young mothers whose opportunities seem hopeless, searching in vain for a glimmer of hope. Their loveless lives have left scars that go deep. They are regarded as the ‘nobodies of society’.   We can offer faith, bring comfort and give assurance that God alone is our refuge. ‘Blessed is God who has not withdrawn his love and care from them. 

FEBRUARY 1996 – two young ladies with a special heart filled with an insatiable conviction for cancer patients.  They sensed a calling from God to minister into the lives of precious people diagnosed with inoperable cancer, discharged by an oncologist and sent home to die. Emanuel Hospice Homecare Team has grown throughout these twenty-five years into a small team who have become bright and shining lights in a private world of darkness.  How can one evaluate the level of pain as a mother, father watches their little ones they will soon leave behind, or the emotional stress of a loved one keeping a bedside vigil for a loved one in the advanced stages of cancer?  Last month I reported FORTY-NINE patients had died within our care.  Sadly the numbers have risen to SIXTY patients.  The pain and suffering continue to increase as does our concern for where they will spend eternity.

KEVIN maintains steady progress following his recent surgery.  The surgeon in Timisoara questioned the results from the biopsy carried out in Oradea and has requested a repeat.  We are waiting for the answer.

TAMARA (4) has been diagnosed with leukaemia.  Her young parents are emotionally devastated as they watch their little one suffering with severe adverse reactions from chemotherapy and various medications.  They feel blessed to receive from our feeding programme as the rising cost of medication is difficult for this poor family.

MIRCEA (33). His condition is visibly deteriorating.  Heart-breaking for this young father as he watches his beloved wife, his little daughter who is her ‘Daddy’s Treasure’, knowing each day is another day nearer his home call.  His mother stands by lovingly caring for her son, aware his days are short and time is limited.  The final ‘Goodnight Daddy’ will be soon. 

It can happen suddenly and lives are changed forever.  Panic greets the early morning sunrise.  The cares of this world weigh heavy for many and as I write, I will try to put into proportion the level of pain and sadness surrounding two of our adult Hospice patients. 

LUCIA (56) has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.  Her husband cares lovingly for his beloved wife.  Lucia was an accomplished accountant and discovered the tumour when she became aware of difficulty in reading, speaking, walking. A series of tests concluded a brain tumour and surgery was arranged.  Following her brain surgery Lucia has remained paralyzed on her right side and aphasic (unable to speak). Lucia had as pleasant personality and enjoyed conversing with people.  However, she finds herself trapped within her disabled body not even being able to cry out the pain of her broken heart. She is suffering from depression, tearful for the most part of the day and feels a burden to her husband. Pray that God will strengthen Lucia, grant her the peace that surpasses all understating and the grace of knowing the Lord Jesus, the Hope of glory.

ESTHER (78) a sweet lady of Hungarian ethnicity, whose cancer of the uterine metastasized to her skin, lungs and recently there have been suspicions of brain metastases.  She is presently bed bound and is now developing pressure wounds that are lovingly dressed by Dana, one of the Hospice devout nurses. Esther was a very active woman and loved selling fruit and vegetables on the open market until last spring. She misses meeting people and spending time in the sun and fresh air. During the past weekend, Esther’s condition has deteriorated significantly and she has started to have convulsions. Anna, (26) niece, is caring for Esther but is frightened and has trouble sleeping at night. She fears the convulsions will develop and become intense.  Pray that Esther will find relief from her discomfort and that she will find rest in the Arms of the Everlasting Father. 

A Hospice bed unit is needed in order to provide the proper level of care for patients on a continuous basis. She, as many others, requires medical supervision and her family members feel overwhelmed by the situation. We thank the Lord for his timely provision in supplying the various medical equipment we have transported to Emanuel Hospice during the past months.  Another shipment is on its way, thanks to Isobel.  

The singing of the birds is always music to my ears. Quietly opening the study doors, my friends continued to serenade me, reminding me of the beauty of God’s creation.  I was suddenly struck with the majesty of God and turned to Psalm 8.  I felt I was reading with a different heart, a heart humbled and overwhelmed by the greatness of God. As I outline the update of my dear Mariana and her seven children, I cry: ‘Lord, yours alone is the glory’.

MARIANA. In talks with Mariana yesterday, she is very weak yet determined to slowly walk each stage of this harrowing journey.  The Oncologist knows in his heart it will take a miracle.  A wilderness saga for Mariana and one that is lonely.  I try to place myself in her position, aware that my help is very feeble and although I know in my heart Mariana’s flame is but a flicker, there is one who can turn the entire situation around.  And it has begun:  A village home has been purchased for this precious family of eight, close to the village school.  An enclosed plot will enable the children to grow their own vegetables.  The providence of God is so precious; the children will be together in a home of their own.  Once the keys are handed over, the fear of separation will be removed. Although willing, it was an impossible situation for Mariana to handle alone; now it has been turned into one of blessing.  There are still unanswered questions, but for now, all I need to know is that God is in control.  My prayer for Mariana is that she may sing from a true heart: ‘O may my love for Thee, Pure, warm and changeless be, A living fire, My faith looks up to Thee…’ And yet there is more, Barbara has sent three boxes filled with school backpacks for the children.  Impossible situations?  Not in God’s agenda.

A NEW FAMILY:  A mining village is home to nine children who live in deep poverty. Their mother was diagnosed with cancer and returning home from work one evening, the father drove over 300 kilometres to hospital, twice in one evening.  Yes, 1,200 kilometres in one night.  Mummy did not return home from hospital.  The Lord sees our tears and he is watching over these precious nine children.  All we need to know is that you and I together are making a small difference in these lives.  Many would only have crumbs on their table but because you care their cry for food has been answered through YOU.  Thank you for feeding these precious ten people.

OUR DORA is and always will be special.  I love her so much and in my recent video clip she decided to sing a song for Dr. Moore – my heart, my arms long to reach out and touch her.  John, her father contracted Covid but praise the Lord, although weak, he is recovering.  Pray for John who has cared for Dora for over forty years, that he will be able to continue to care for his beloved Dora.  John is in his mid-seventies and has personal health issues.  Dora told me she is thinking of making a surprise visit as it has been a long time since our last visit.

KINGDOM KIDS: Therapy is ongoing for the orphan, disabled and abandoned children.  One case study pulled at the strings of my heart. Florin, a little boy of nine, over sixty kilometres from Oradea, who attends regularly for personal therapy, has little or no clothes.  Some days he comes in borrowed clothing; other days, his outer garment is in rags.  I felt sad and deeply hurt for this precious little life who has a deformed body – a hard road for this little one. My feeling should be turned into action.  I pray the Lord will control our response.

Staff are overwhelmed as they see and feel the sorrow and pain of those with serious health issues.  Covid restrictions cause treatment(s) to be more complicated, more expensive.  Hospitals are so overcrowded they are unable to offer a normal service; therefore, an appointment, diagnosis takes longer.  I need you to stand with me in praying for the teams of Emanuel Hospice, Iochebed and Casa Grace.  They are under pressure and totally exhausted.  May the Lord guide them, renew their strength and provide for the needs of each day. 

SOFRONEA: My adopted son Andrei is fully aware of the principles surrounding his role as Pastor and has embraced them admirably.  He is a young man dedicated to the furtherance of the gospel.    Church services have recommenced in the field adjacent to his village church.  Andrei has a burden to reach the younger generation, ensuring the witness of the church for generations to come.  He studies hard to fill the baskets with food for each Lord’s Day, as young families travel forty miles to hear ‘The Word’.  Andrei has fresh bread, following the example of the Lord Jesus who always had food for the hungry, green pastures for the multitudes that followed seeking refreshment and teaching.  Pray for wisdom for Andrei, spiritual growth in his church.

Oswald Chambers writes: ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly, simply and unaffectedly.  Those are the lives that mould us.’

Shirley, May 28, 2021

42B Bernice Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ.