‘When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are satisfied’ Psalm: 104. 28.
Held in the hollow of His hands, the very shadow of His hand is all we need for each day.
The final week, four weeks, where have they gone? What about the ‘whenever’, ‘wherever’, ‘whatever’? Have I shown the love of Christ even in the things He has allowed and faithfully shared that in the midst of what He has not allowed? The Lord will stay with us as long as we remain in Him. Our Lord knew the depth of pain. His tender touch was always available; ‘ask and it shall…’ To those who came with human infirmities, His hands were always outstretched saying ‘Come’. We read in Mark 6:34 ‘He had compassion on them’. This particular mission trip, I feel as if a ‘tornado’ has hit many lives; those who suffer in silence frightened of the quietness that surrounds. I have held ‘other people’s children’ and although not my own, I have felt the pain of a father, mother watching in ‘silence’. A word of reassurance is quietly spoken telling them that even in impossible situations when we trust Him, His grace sustains in the darkest hour. His outstretched hands are waiting to hold us close to His heart. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not certain, today? Am I listening to His voice? Am I trusting in every situation? Today is another day of opportunity; I must feel, I must do, I must love. Even the unlovable? I must!
When I can’t sleep and my thoughts run around in my head, rest is far from my mind. The remains of the day weigh heavy on my heart, ‘Am I doing everything I can?’ The Psalmist must have felt as I when he penned ‘I think how much the Lord has helped me, and even in my heartache, His joy is to be found in the ‘shadow’ of His wings’. Soon it is morning, sunrise, heavy rains, one of the ‘whatever’s’, but how? The Lord will give me the words of comfort but I must listen and listen carefully, learn and follow.
As I sat in the corridor of the Children’s Hospital, Ishmael (holding tightly to his Mum’s hand) came quietly walking to where Estera and I waited anxiously to hear the surgeon’s report. Florina was visibly shaken and upset, Ishmael watching every word, every move his mother made was very tearful. ‘I just want to be the same as other children, I want to be normal.’ ‘Why can’t I go to school with my friends?’ Ishmael was born with an enlarged colon, immediate surgery followed to reduce the size and insert an ostomy pouching system, which is associated with colostomies. Ishmael has just celebrated his sixth birthday and as he grows, his inner organs grow, causing pain, discomfort, vomiting and major complications. They are a gypsy family who live in Alesd,
Little Ishmael will return to Hospital next Monday. An ECG has been requested to ensure he is able to undergo further surgery, the twentieth in his six short years. A difficult time for this family, they struggle day to day with expenses. This morning Florina and Ishmael stood by the side of the road signing, hoping someone would stop to take them (for payment) the 42 kilometers to Oradea, as they had insufficient money for the bus fare. Other people’s children? True, but they have entered my heart.
Today, I watched the children play. Their facial expression, freedom of play, joy. But not all children had freedom in play and were not resounding with laughter, their smiles few. Only two children could attend the craft class as the others were in isolation. Many of the oncology patients (4 – 16 years of age) have been learning the art of ‘Legacy Building’. A Programme of Memory, a memory of their own choosing i.e., Photo Album, Hand Print, Foot Mold. You ask, ‘What is the reasoning behind…or why?’ Although not all patients recover, their memory will remain. I still think of little Beni, his little lamb sits in the front of the Hospice Car as we drive from village to village; he is never forgotten.
As the two little ones played, carefully watching one another’s ‘skills’, the smaller one emerged as the ‘leader’. But then there is always ‘one’ gifted with leadership qualities and ability, one, the other players follow and I suppose are happy to approve. Sister Silvia Csaki has such a role as Child Life Specialist serving with Child Life Romania. A modest, humble and kind young woman who serves under God’s direction. Silvia sets goals and works hard to achieve them. She serves with excellence, faithfulness, playing with the sick children week by week, and ‘there is time’ for ALL, no one is forgotten. Psalm 121 assures us His eyes are always upon us. As I watched the children play today, my thoughts turned to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 about our work and how we build – wood, hay, stubble or gold, silver, precious stones. May we who serve not settle for wood, hay or stubble but rather silver or strive to achieve gold. The ‘Gold’ for me today was one tiny girl aged six, alone, from a gypsy village, no clothes, unkempt, unwashed, unloved, Child Life Romania bathed this little one, tried to teach her in a childlike manner the importance of hygiene, brought some toys, clothes and of course an ‘Easter Chick’. Run the Race with endurance to obtain the prize. This little one was suffering ‘alone’ with pneumonia.
During my visits last week, I met a young man of nineteen, mentally retarded with many complications. He collected ‘keys’ as a hobby, hundreds of keys and knew exactly which key opened which door or box. My key is going to unlock the ‘Door of Hope’ in to a deep valley of despair, where in the winter season of life, there is suffering. For them spring, summer, autumn has come and gone and the winter has come and it is a cold place. My words must be according to ALL the ‘seasons’ of life, assuring words that ALL ARE HIDDEN IN His hand and that ALL means ALL. I must prayerfully wait and obtain the ‘know how’ the ‘know what’ for every season in life.
An elderly lady from Taut village suffers alone, her illness advanced; surgery has led to significant changes in her bodily functions and the aggressive treatment has severe side effects. There is another sister (50) with four sons and one daughter who served as a librarian at Bethel Pentecostal High School, Oradea. Four months ago she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma; spinal surgery followed but since then she has developed numerous complications. The boys are not in school but working to pay for their mother’s treatment and transportation to the Oncological Institute in Cluj. I first visited ‘F’ two years ago, one year previously he was diagnosed with retroperitoneal liposarcoma. His first surgery removed a tumor weighing over 17 lbs. The tumor keeps relapsing, methastasing to the point of multiple determinations. In the last three years, five major surgeries have taken place. He has sold his car and now is selling his two bedroomed flat – the cost of his last surgery was ten thousand euros. Pray for these ‘suffering hearts’.
After our team building meeting at Casa Grace, Mihai drove Monika, Cornelia and I to interview a single mother of twenty four with a seven month baby girl. She recently made application to the feeding programme. As the car stopped in front of a derelict building where conditions appeared to be somewhat unsafe, I gazed in astonishment at the neglect and insecurity around me. The cold yard was filled with people without family, job or property, drifting aimlessly without hope. Their eyes in a fixed stare at the uneven cobble stones. I smiled, extended a greeting as I passed, their look told me all I needed to know.
This young mother left home at the age of fourteen, her monthly income formed by state allowances is forty pounds per month and because of food and hygiene priorities the young mother was unable to pay rent and has received an eviction order. We spent time with her, advising her where and when to apply for help. This young mother does need our help but she needs the Lord. Please pray for her. Isa 32: 18: ‘And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.’
My final day before leaving tomorrow – not a story but a reality. Kevin is a typically young seven year old, filled with the joys of childhood. He was still sleeping when I arrived, but Gabby his mother went indoors and carried him in her arms to where Estera and I were waiting. He couldn’t wait for his mother to dress him in his new politia outfit complete with handcuffs and mobile telephone. ‘Wow, look at you!’ He smiled shyly and said ‘I wish I could play football, run or play games with my friends’. He is unable to walk! Kevin was only two years of age when he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his spine, surgery followed by chemotherapy took place. Sadly he relapsed, and this time the tumor was located in his lungs. Further surgery, chemotherapy and Stem Cell Transplant took place. He is just a little boy and wants to be normal. As a result of the surgery, Kevin’s tiny feet are twisted, the soles of his feet have turned around and he walks on his toes – he crawls (as a baby) everywhere.
His amazing smile never leaves his cute little face. During the month of April a decision will be made to reverse the angle of his feet; this can only be done in Italy. The Hospice are making application to Insurance House regarding the surgery but this gypsy family do not have the resources to drive from the village of Tarian to Italy. ‘Please lady, will you come and play with me again?’ What do you think? Kevin blew a kiss as I drove away.
Saturday we travel to Dej where I will spend the afternoon with Manuela and baby Andreea. Sunday, Dr. Moore will preach in Aiud Baptist Church and I will accompany my friend Violeta to Iris Baptist Church. My husband and I will meet in the evening where he will minister in Betel Baptist Church. Dr. Marius Sabou (former student of Dr. Moore) and his family have extended hospitality for the closing chapter of this mission trip; they are very close to our hearts and are greatly loved. Monday morning we leave, leave the place we love, the place where we belong. Suddenly the days have become hours, but it won’t be long and we will be reunited with those we will hold in our hearts until our return on 24th April. Meantime there is much to be accomplished back home. Difficult choices to be made, ‘what should we do?’ ‘What should we pursue?’ Who knows the mind of God better than the Holy Spirit? May we see His guidance in all decisions knowing that in His time and plan He will send according to the need.
Our times have been special as we have shared with the Casa Grace team, Hospice Chapel and ministered in various Churches. Chistag was a joy on Sunday as we met and shared God’s Bounty with Marinela’s mother, Marie, She is a wonderful hostess and a very talented cook. Her grape vines are amazing, with the turkeys, hens still flying in the air, not forgetting the three dogs which thankfully Brother Beni Gherasim (Music Student) who translated for Dr. Moore, kept occupied while a certain sister quietly made her way to the car!
Meagre resources, intense poverty, hunger, illness, realities not easy to bear. Join your hand with mine in faith for these difficult situations.
Shirley, 24 March 2017