December? Where has this year gone? As I try to process the fear and unrest many have encountered throughout this year and are continuing to face daily, I am reminded of the words of Deut. 31: 8 (NIV) ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’. We rest in knowing we serve a God who is merciful and gracious, whose love is steadfast and whose mercies are new every morning. C.H. Spurgeon: ‘Let your gratitude compel you in everything you do for Jesus’. A new year lies before us with new opportunities. It can be the starting point of a personal journey of greater reliance upon the Giver of Life. We need to prepare room in our hearts; we need to commence a personal experience of getting to know God is with us in every season of life.
As I commence writing this report, I identify those who are anxious, worried, heartbroken, without food, without anyone to care – the list is endless. I pray they will come to know the love, comfort and assurance of a loving Lord who silently waits to be invited into their situation.
A few weeks ago I wrote: Lanko (12) is sinking fast, as his condition continues to deteriorate. He has tetra paresis. Each breath is now a constant struggle even with the support of an oxygen cylinder. Lanko is now fed through a feeding tube and has another tube inserted to drain the infection from his lungs. Every day is increasingly difficult for his grandmother; she herself is ill, many seasons have come and gone in her life. This is now a season of sorrow. Lanko is treasured by his grandmother; she cares for him from a heart overflowing with love. This aged lady gives and gives and gives again without complaint. There are no rainbows in her sky, no bright tomorrows. Soon the winter season will arrive; she will be left alone in the coldness of sorrow.
It is with a broken heart and deep sadness I share the news of the passing of this beloved grandson. A few days ago, Lanko (12) passed away after years of suffering. His suffering has ended but his grandmother who loved him and cared for him since a baby is left alone with only her memories. Lanko’s mother rejected him, not accepting the responsibility of caring for a sick baby. The loving heart of a grandmother took him in her arms and has lovingly cared for him for twelve years. Her days are meaningless, her heart empty, as her beloved grandson has gone. She awakens each morning to dark and lonely days; she is in a season of deep sorrow.
Kristof (7) has relapsed for the third time. His family are devastated. The family have two younger children who have had to sacrifice the love and care of their mother as most of Kristof’s seven years have been spent in hospital. These children have been unable to make memories with their older brother. Kristof’s memories are not filled with the laughter of normal playtime; only the fear of treatment and medication. Please think of these special children this Christmas. This precious little boy will spend another Christmas Day in hospital.
Daria (10) diagnosed with spinal amyotrophy has undergone a recent surgery to straighten her spine. It was a most difficult surgery followed by extreme bone pain. Another precious little one who should be outside playing with her friends. Yet, sickness is her only companion. Daria’s mother asks from a broken heart to whisper Daria’s name in your prayers.
Kevin is stable and able to attend school on a regular basis. Following his last procedure, his consultant recommended Kevin to lose weight in order to relieve the pressure on his legs and feet. Kevin celebrated his fourteenth birthday this week and is growing into a fine young man. He has now lost weight and is feeling the benefit when walking. Prior to his birthday, his voice suddenly changed, Robi would be proud of his young son.
Livia is a patient recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumour exulcerated, causing her extreme pain. Livia has added complications owing to a metastasis which is spreading throughout her body. Fluid retention is causing swelling, presently, one leg is causing a high level of concern. Following a recent consultation her consultant informed her of the possibility of amputation. My heart is sinking as I write. The pain, the burden, the decisions this precious lady is hiding in the corner of her heart. She is totally alone without any family connections. A friend has opened her home to her just now to ensure she receives food and nourishment. In the dark nights of loneliness, the reality of a decision is crowding her troubled mind. Please pray for this dear lady.
Marioara is a patient with colon cancer. The cancer is causing metastasis in other vital organs, especially her lung area. Marioara is fully dependent on a portable oxygen device. She is one of many of our patients who struggle to breathe. Her illness and the prospect of a future is creating anxiety, she suffers from panic attacks when she has an attach of dyspnoea, a sudden, severe attack of shortness of breath. Remember Marioara.
Elena is another one of our patients diagnosed with breast cancer. She is still undergoing a series of chemotherapy treatments. Elena is a widow; all of her children live abroad. Her days are lonely. In fact, Elena has expressed the silence of loneliness is much more difficult to bear than her illness. I pray for many who long for the doorbell or the telephone to ring, just to hear another voice. Real people with a real longing just to matter to someone. Elena’s sister and brother-in-law, neighbours try to call. These are the cold facts of reality; please remember those you know who are alone.
Elisabeth was one of the first patients I met on my first visit to Romania weeks after my marriage to Hamilton in 2012. She is lovingly cared for by her beloved husband John. Elizabeth has undergone several surgeries for cancer. The Lord touched Elizabeth and she has been in remission. Recently it was confirmed her cancer had returned and immediate surgery was arranged. She has recovered well after the surgery and is undergoing a series of mild chemotherapy, which her body appears to be coping with exceptionally well. John and Elizabeth are members of Emanuel Baptist Church. On each of my home visits, John would sing a psalm, while Elizabeth would read the scriptures. A special couple who love the Lord, in and out of season.
Suceava has been greeted with the first of the Romanian snows. I remember as a child singing ‘Snowy flakes are falling softly clothing all the world in white’. This was not the case on this particular morning. Many families had no firewood; there are barefooted children without adequate clothing and shoes. Families may appear resilient, even indestructible, yet the panic was evident as families came pleading for help. Your donations made a real difference, as we were able with God’s help to show His love to many families who had no food or wood for the winter, or whose children were without clothes or shoes. Six new babies were born this month, our team in Iochebed have been assisting all six families with pampers, clothes and medication.
Paraschiva was born close to term – at thirty-seven weeks weighing only 1.9 kilos. This precious little one was born with a severe infection. She suffered an internal haemorrhage and was unable to breathe without intervention for the first few days. The doctors did not expect the baby to survive. The young parents talked to the Lord about baby Paraschiva. The Lord heard their prayers and the baby is beginning to gain weight. There are underlying concerns regarding her heart and eyesight. She will be sent for further investigations to a specialist hospital in the country. May God touch this baby girl and watch over her development.
Delia is a mother of a five-month baby girl who recently discovered she is twelve weeks pregnant. She is feeling weak and unable to consume food owing to the extremity of her morning sickness. Pray for this young mother that the Lord will sustain her throughout her remaining weeks or pregnancy.
Ani is a mother of a little one aged two; she too is pregnant again. Ani is mentally unprepared for another baby and is feeling most distressed at the prospect of giving birth to another little one. Ani needs our prayers to accept this little one is a gift from the Lord who will be a blessing to her.
Sorina is the mother of two children. She came to our centre asking for our help. She was diagnosed with a disease that causes her extreme pain. Our team spent time with her offering wise counsel and direction which has helped her. Sorina praised the Lord for His care, asking for grace during in these difficult times.
Doina is a single mom with a three-year-old girl. Doina is deaf and mute. They live in freezing conditions without heat. She asked if she could be considered for a furnace to help her and her little one keep warm during the winter months. She was not turned away. A furnace was purchased and installed in order that this little family may know warmth and comfort in the place they call ‘home’. May God bless them and touch their hearts with His love!
Our families have no foundation to build a secure future. For many, all hope of such has faded and they feel forsaken and alone. We try in love to show them and tell them that when our hope is secure, we can give thanks even in the darkness of every season. They open their eyes each morning thinking ‘If only I knew where to go, if only, if only …’ Unanswered questions, wrestling with the consequences of wrongful choices. Every season is the same.
Rebeca (12) is a beautiful young lady with a burning desire and an eagerness to learn the art of tailoring. However, she lives in Vascau which is ninety kilometres from Oradea. Our Vocational Training Room is meeting the needs of many families, while our waiting list exceeds fifty. Casa Grace was made aware of this situation. My team are beyond words, as arrangements were made for Rebeca and her cousin to attend a five-day intense training course during their school holidays and Dana (Supervisor) offered hospitality to the girls in her home for the five-day training session. Earlier this month, I felt compelled in my heart to upgrade our embroidery machine. This turned into an amazing journey of faith, ending in God’s provision. My lesson – listen to the stillness of His voice. How blessed to have met this need and to think Rebeca can dressmake for her twelve siblings.
Albert (10) displays a fear, a sadness. His parents divorced after his father created ongoing problems due to his alcohol addiction. Naomi (mother) is trying to keep her family together. Albert’s sister, Renata is nineteen. They are forced to live in rented accommodation. Naomi is very encouraged by the vital food and hygiene support, the added blessing of shoes, backpacks, blankets, clothes! We live to serve and pray that through our service they will come to know the One whose love will never fail them.
Two small girls of two and four live with one step sister (10) and two brothers (12) and (14). They live in a remote village approximately one hour from Oradea. They are going through a tunnel of fear just now. They need accommodation for seven people and had no other option but to purchase a small village house resulting in the added expense of a monthly mortgage. Calin (father) and all five children have medical problems. Calin raised his three older children alone, as their mother abandoned her family when Ana (10) was only four weeks old. The father remarried and has two smaller children to this second marriage. The mother of the three older children has suddenly appeared after a ten-year absence, requesting custody of all three children. The children do not know her, they have no memories of her and do not want to leave the place they call home, the place where they have found security. Paula, as a stepmother, even though she is young, loves all five children and takes excellent care of her humble home and precious little ones. Paula makes no difference in any of the children.
UPDATE ON ALEX TOMA:
The Toma family receive Christian love and attention from our dedicated teams. Medical care is provided by Emanuel Hospice who visit twice weekly and food and hygiene come from Casa Grace. Ongoing medical expenses bring concern and added worry to the family. Alex has been in a coma for six years. He is very thin owing to muscle wastage. His sister, who was his main carer is now unable to visit on a regular basis since now she is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child. This is creating added pressure and anxiety on brother and sister Toma who struggle with illness and depression since the two accidents involving Alex and his sister. The family are hurting, as weeks become months, months become years and still no change. They need our prayers. Their daughter who had the amputation following the car accident is now eighteen and is waiting to be scheduled in Bucharest for a new prothesis. She is filled with fear. Dia who has just celebrated her twelfth birthday has thyroid problems causing extreme weight gain – she too fears the future. A precious family who throughout all that life has thrown their way remain steadfast in their faith and love for the Lord. Please remember the Toma Family.
UPDATE ON PASTOR ANDREI, SOFRONEA:
My adopted son continues to serve with a heart of compassion. I am thankful to the Lord for the years in Emanuel University where I watched him mature. Andrei has embraced the challenge of service in a village church and for one so young, there are many challenges. During the month of October, a youth ministry has commenced with ten young people in attendance during the opening service. Ligia, who was one of my girls in the Beauty of Holiness group is a Proverbs 31 wife. She has arranged a special meeting for the women of the church, inviting village ladies to come and share together. She organised a lady to come alongside the ladies outlining how to overcome their fears. Last Sunday, two young girls were baptised. Andrei and Ligia have a vision and God is moving by His spirit.
TELL ROMANIA UPDATE:
November proved to be a busy month. It became apparent that the need for shoes and filled backpacks was causing concern to many village and Roma families. Unless a child has a personal filled backpack, they cannot attend school. For many of these children, school is a life-line from the pressure of homelife with all its disappointments and problems. During the Harvest season, various churches held a ‘Shoe Harvest’ in their Church Foyer and to date we have transported over one thousand pairs of shoes. During the past three weeks, over one hundred banana boxes filled with backpacks, shoeboxes, medical essentials have been transported by Tarsin Transportation. We continue therefore, to enable the Foundations of Casa Grace and Iochebed to show God’s love to children and families; also, Emanuel Hospice, who minister in love as they seek to share the Good News. An army of ladies were involved in the process and we wish to acknowledge Bethany Baptist Church; Monkstown Baptist Church; Agape Fellowship; Deaf Christian Fellowship: Ballycraigy Congregational, Carnmoney Presbyterian, Kilbride Presbyterian Churches and various schools. Threads, Ballycarry. Individual ladies also assisted: Sisters Barbara, Alison, Iris, Patsy, Margaret.
GOD IS MOST GLORIFIED IN US WHEN WE ARE MOST SATISFIED IN HIM. (John Piper).
Shirley, November 28th, 2023. 42b Bernice Road, Newtownabbey, Co. Antrim, BT36 4QZ.