‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’. (Joshua 24: 15)
A familiar site – a Roma cart carrying possessions of a lifetime. Roma families searching for a new beginning, somewhere to call home. Rejected, without identity, yet real lives now overtaken by fear, panic, searching for a new direction to build again. Tears fill my eyes as I think of the many Roma villages today longing for someone to care.
‘In tender compassion and wonderful love,
The Father looks down from on high;
He knoweth the raven hath need of its food,
And heareth in mercy its cry’ (Lewis E. Jones)
Together, we can serve as ‘Friends’. Serve the friendless and forsaken, help them discover through our service the compassion and redemptive love of ‘Calvary’s Lamb’. In my reading this morning, I was deeply moved as I read: ‘Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness’ (Phil. 2: 6-7). Let us break down the barriers, roadblocks, distrust, suspicion by serving one another in love.
Suceava is now under total quarantine, the first city in Romania to be in tight quarantine until mid-April with only goods trucks permitted. The massive outbreak at the hospital has led Suceava being compared to Lombardy. ‘This is Romania’s Italy’. To date over one hundred and eighty medical workers (including forty-three doctors) are infected by Covid-19. As of April 02, the hospital is under military rule. Hospitals in Romania were not prepared or equipped to cope with this pandemic. The Leader of the Regional Baptist Association died last week. Another pastor is fighting for his life in a hospital outside the city, while his wife is sick in a local hospital. Their children are sick and isolated at home. My adopted son, Andrei, his wife Ligia who was one of ‘My Girls’ in the ‘Beauty of Holiness’ group, has been in contact with students who have a special 3D printer, they are in the process of making facial visors (FOC) for medical teams. Ligia, assisted by a small team, purchase/deliver food to the elderly in Sofronea and the neighbouring village of SanPaul. The importance of ‘serving’ not just in days of crisis but where, when and how we can.
The work continues with Gabi (Iochebed) working from home, counselling on line and by telephone. The needs escalate as fear grips the hearts of many; they need food, dried milk, pampers. There is no work for anyone. Babies need milk, children are hungry, families must eat. Young girls with unwanted pregnancies – Roxana (16) suffering under the hands of an abusive father has now had to leave the family home. Maria (29) distraught as to how she will feed another little one and care for her elderly father.
Dr. Beni, nursing staff, psychologist and the physiotherapist continue to visit the emergency terminally ill cases. Sadly. forty patients have died in recent weeks with many new cases entering the already overloaded system. The enormity of the Covid-19 outbreak, government restrictions, lack of food, medical supplies are overwhelming, resulting in prioritising on a daily basis. Ella (19) is under strict isolation as she is highly vulnerable; the parents of Kevin received a telephone call from the hospital informing them Kevin must isolate (no exceptions). Bianca, Diana & David, children living in fear, no Mum, no Dad to reassure them in the quietness of isolation. My friend Estera ended her email to me just now: ‘Glad to be in His Service’. Hold this team in your heart, praying for protection and safety.
The elderly struggle behind a closed door. Catalina (breast cancer), her husband Stefan (dementia), Catalina (neck tumour), Magdalena, Elizabeth, John (cancer patients) Brother Emerico (colon cancer) his wife (partially blind) all filled with sadness. They live for the faint knock, perhaps the only knock at their door, welcoming a friendly face from our Hospice team. The borders remain closed in Oradea, Hungary. In the early hours of the morning, I see their faces, their smile and I miss them and wonder if and when I will see them again.
Monika and her husband Andrei are together in Oradea. Andrei was employed in London but felt the need to reunite with his wife and daughters, Hanna and Miriam. After quite an eventful series of flights, he finally landed in Cluj Napoca, where he was in quarantine for fourteen days. Monika welcomes the support in managing the many families who come for basic food. Papers must be duly completed and submitted, food ordered and yet restrictions apply as the freedom to purchase extra kilograms of flour, sugar, pasta or basic items have been removed.
Many shops and supermarkets open only on certain hours resulting in miles of people queuing.
Sister(s) Berta, Neli and Marie counsel from home. A new family comprising of five children as both parents had children to a former marriage. Their little boy (2) (down syndrome) died from pneumonia; the father has undergone brain surgery; two of their daughters have special needs; they heard about the work of Casa Grace. We can offer food, support them for the next two years, but their need is deeper; they need to taste the living bread. Pray as we serve in offering food and hygiene products, they will see the love of God and come to know Him. Dora maintains regular contact with Elena (Director) of the Orphan Centre, remembering the precious abandoned babies. Parents of Down Syndrome and Disabled Children also receive regular support. John continues his loving care for his precious daughter Dora who is happy to wait for her Birthday Party until Sister Shirley comes with her presents.
Dana, Supervisor of the Vocational Training Room and Stefan, a part-time member of the team are making face masks – Casa Grace are reaching and touching lives. Thirty students commenced the tailoring course on January 20th with an ever-growing list wishing to enrol. Modules from beginner to distinction are on offer; but for now, all is on hold, as we wait on God’s timing.
Nearness to God brings likeness to God. The more you see God the more of God will be seen in you. – C.H. Spurgeon