‘Sight is not faith, and hearing is not faith, neither is feeling faith; but believing when we neither see, hear, nor feel is faith…Therefore, we must believe before we feel, and often against our feelings if we would honour God by our faith’
Hannah Whitall Smith

‘Lord, I need you to be my silent companion today, I need your quiet spirit within’.   Psalm 57: 8  ‘I will awake the dawn’.  Oh how I needed to linger alone in His presence this morning, to feel, to touch, to care for those afraid as the night sky disappears, the clouds roll back, and another morning is revealed. Fierce storms of uncertainty, sickness, loss – no pleasant places in view.  Yes, my heart is heavy.  ‘Am I able to ……?’  I questioned. But then I reminded myself it was in the place of solitude that many giants of faith ‘FOUND HIM’.  William Carey wrote : ‘I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter’.

Little Victor (2)  was first introduced to you in my October blog, abandoned by his mother when only a baby, he remains in foster care where he is loved.  Victor is in hospital receiving treatment for Leukaemia and waiting on a donor to enable a bone marrow transplant to proceed.  A new addition to our Feeding Programme, a beautiful baby girl with the most amazing eyes, Baby Alexandra (nine months), diagnosed with a brain tumour, is not responding to treatment and surgery is not an option.  Her mother is heartbroken.  Alexandra has two other little sisters, and her mother will soon give birth to a fourth child.  All three girls have the most beautiful dark eyes that pierce your heartstrings.  They are now part of our feeding programme and so thankful for the food provision.

During December many children were bereft of a Father, Mother – no Daddy or Mummy to hug them on Christmas morning.  Simona (37) with a beautiful daughter (4); Tabita (43), two daughters (12 & 10); Florin fought so hard to live but finally succumbed to the many tumours growing in his body, leaving a much loved son.  Daria and I spent many hours with this precious family who have sacrificed so much.  ‘Shirley, do you miss your children, your patients ……?’ A question frequently asked. Not one day passes without some contact either by email; text; skype – I am in constant contact with ‘those I love’; they are part of who I am and have.  I am human and grow impatient, yet I know there is a pattern to my life and the threads are still being woven. Please pray the Emanuel Hospice Team will know an inner strength to love, care and support our patients.  The numbers are growing to the pressure point where each nurse has at least ten patients every day.

Daily my friend Dora sends video clips of ‘My Kids’ at the centre located in the Orphanage in Oradea.  This is when the tears flow; this is when Mrs Shirley  (an affectionate term used by my super heros) knows she needs to be back in Romania – I need to hug my little ones and tell them just how much I love them! Please remember Dora in her therapy classes, where under her care abandoned babies, children with disabilities attend on a daily basis.  290 therapy sessions were held last month.  Please pray for protection during the severe winter months, it can be a difficult time for children with disabilities as they are prone to infection etc.

Cighid Adult Orphans are part of our care programme and we thank those of you who show your love in different ways to these precious men and women who do not know the love or security of a family environment – thank you for your heart and for remembering them.  They are so far removed from society.

Sister Monika continues to head another amazing team who lovingly hold the bruised close in heart.  I need to be still as I think of the cares and sorrows piercing their broken hearts.  Many have no home, wood, food, every day a shivering figure comes (many making a long journey) asking for help.  Others wander the freezing streets of Romania hoping to find a space beside the homeless. Where does this road lead or where does this rough road end?  These  people are scarred, wounded by cruel arrows of life. Last weekend proved to me that the Lord doesn’t want me to worry or dwell on how I am feeling, but to live by faith and not by sight. £15,000 is required for the feeding programme each year.  God had the first three months of 2019 in His hand –  the Feeding Programme is covered January – March for  Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed. I thanked the Lord for the richness of His grace in His provision for this measure of abundance, touching your hearts to lovingly supply the needs of the hurting and broken.  Thank you for your sense of call knowing no bound or end.   I could not do this alone and each day as I humbly ask for His guidance, His provision – it arrives, never late, never early but just in time – waiting is difficult but it forms a bond of trust that cannot be shaken.  A single mother, very sick with no money for food, tests, medical treatment, surviving on £15 per month.  The Lord removed the winter in her heart by sending the much needed resources through the love and care of a couple from Co. Londonderry. Crushed by the circumstances of life, this couple has bathed her wounds and given hope. May this precious lady prove that ‘When darkness veils His lovely face, to rest on His unchanging grace…’
Iochebed – a different work from Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace … but still part of the many outreaches linked with Tell Romania.  Sister Gaby and her team minister to hundreds of village women in the depths of despair.  No one to turn to; no one to help.  During my time in Suceava I was brought face to face with many painful realities of life where decisions had to be made. The team give of their time and patience without counting the cost.  One case brought to my attention today : ‘A young mother (25) with three young daughters, in urgent need.  Expecting her fourth baby – her husband could not provide for another little one.  ‘What can I do, where can I go …..?’   I cannot go into details owing to patient confidentiality.  During the pregnancy many health risks were identified – no money for the required tests or treatment. The baby has been born but baby food costs approximately £46 each month. Tell Romania can assist as God provides remembering that  ‘Little is much when God is in it’  ‘Who is my neighbour?’  Thank you for giving food  to your hungering neighbour.
Silvia (one of my girls) spoke with me by skype – I was so thrilled to see her and her husband who is one of the Theology students in Emanuel University.  Silvia’s passion – Child Life Romania  where she  cares for the children on the oncology wards of the local hospital in Oradea.  Another large box of ‘surprises’ is on route for these children and the desperately poor children on the general wards.  Alex and Silvia head a team of students making three mission trips to Moldova each year working with various churches and distributing Bibles. Thank you to those who have sent gifts designated for the purchase of Bibles.

Dina (The Farm) also spoke with me by skype.  Great to put a face to a voice.  In November we brought to your attention the need for bicycles.  David and Freddie will take bicycles to the courier this weekend and they will arrive in Cluj three days later.   David’s invitation is still extended to join the work team leaving 6 – 20 May to work on this project.  I have an amazing picture of a little orphan girl brushing the snowdrifts with a soft floor brush.  Speaks volumes.  This is her place of refuge.

I made reference earlier to ‘MY GIRLS‘ – as I reflect I have such joy as they were part of my life during their years of study at Emanuel University.  Many now married and new Mum’s – Miriam, Oana (baby daughters) Anca (baby son).  Daria was my first point of contact in Emanuel Hospice six years ago; we have laughed together, cried together and possess such a bond of friendship.  My joy was complete when I received word last week that Daria gave birth to a baby daughter (Estera).  Baby Estera is premature (20 weeks) and weighed just over three pounds at birth.  We give thanks Daria is well and the baby is gaining weight.

The heavy snows have fallen in Romania with freezing conditions – Hamilton and I are praying that in the will of the Lord, together it will be possible to plan a mission trip for early March.  Our hands are full of work;  we do not slack; we continually place our offering before Him knowing we are called to serve.  We will go to give to others what He has given us to do.
So many sad faces, young and old, drenched with tears;  help me wipe their tears; help me pour in the oil of kindness to those just longing for a ‘Smile’.

Shirley, 16 January, 2019

‘I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.’  Abraham Lincoln