‘Our land lies in ruins now, but we will rebuild it better than before. We will replace the broken bricks with cut stone, the fallen sycamore trees with cedars’. Isa: 9:10.
‘Change and decay in all around I see…’ Heartfelt emotion of lives in ruins, desperate cries for help. But how much of myself can I give? I can identify with the prophet Nehemiah who when he first saw the ruins of Jerusalem, wept. I have struggled these past few days, yet I am assured that God’s love is stronger than my heartfelt pain. I must be drawn by love to build a ‘Bridge of Hope’ that will join us in the bond of humanity and love. Before departing from Northern Ireland, I sensed a ‘wind of change’ and thought I was prepared, I remind myself that my passion, my vision has not changed, yet question why this particular path of darkness, brokenness, seems the most difficult. I think of Anna who has been trying to ‘rebuild’ with two of her children a ‘Home’ after they spent six years in an Orphanage. Two days ago, the ‘Home’ she shared with ten families, burned to the ground. Her land lies in ruins! ‘Just a little glimmer of light’ I prayed. He is able to restore, rebuild and so I wait knowing ‘My hope is in the Lord’. At the outset of this mission trip, I pray that the Word of God will penetrate the darkness surrounding many and that they will know in their heart there is ‘Hope in the Midst of Shadows’.
John C. Maxwell writes: ‘God chooses what we go through, we choose how we go through it’. Perhaps there are no answers, no reasons for our pain, our loss, on this earthly journey – only eternity will reveal. Elisha’s life was one of courage, he remained firm, faithful to the end, leaving a legacy of faithfulness of service. May I run the race with a firm purpose, a persistence to be willing to ‘FOLLOW MY HEART’. There certainly are more learned than I, but I pray in my own humble attempt to reach one and touch one, these people will come to know and realise that the One who bears all our burdens is ‘Our God’.
The journey ‘Home’ was eventful, the flight from Belfast International Airport was delayed by one hour and forty minutes, making the possibility of our connection questionable. Within minutes of gate closure ‘The Moore’s’ were finally on their way. A different season, change, no Andrei waiting at the airport (with his amazing smile) my fixed gaze scanned the foyer, a ‘familiar’ face? To my surprise there ‘hiding’ in the corner was Oana accompanied by her new husband, Razvan. ‘Welcome Home, we have been waiting to surprise you and have come to take you ‘Home’ to Emanuel University’. Our long awaited reunion was special. My friend Monika had left a ‘Welcome Home’ Hamper of necessities for the weary travellers, things (perhaps) we take for granted, but when one is longing for a ‘cuppa’, ordinary items such as milk, bread, fruit are highly valued and appreciated. What a glorious reunion awaits when we are finally ‘Home’ but until then…My waking thought, my closing thought, ‘keep me faithful, humble, diligent and sincere’.
Monday morning, David and Diana were my priority (the children of my late friend Dorina). As Daria (Hospice Psychologist) and I parked the car, David came to the gate, eagerly waiting our arrival. Entering the yard, an empty silence where once the sound of laughter resounded filled the air. The face of one I once knew was not there to greet me. Diana came running out in need of that long awaited ‘hug’. She resembles her Mum in so many ways, especially those wonderful dark eyes. There are many questions in her heart, responsibility for the household, education, life without ‘Mum’. Early days, weeks for a sixteen year old girl. I pray I can build a bridge that in this cloud they will know that He is the healer of heart and mind.
‘Mihai, what are those elderly people doing, going through the rubbish dumps in the park?’ ‘Sister Shirley you should know…’ Turning the corner, I watched as they slowly made their way home with a white plastic bag filled with? These are the times I am tempted to ‘Run Away’. Next morning as I had breakfast, hundreds of thoughts filled my mind. ‘What can be done?’ My prayer: ‘Thy will be done’.
Driving to the village of Rontau, (Roma community) my heart sank as I passed fields of rubbish dumps, disused stadiums but not uninhabited. It seemed the whole Roma community had come to see the ‘lady from Irlande’ – I could hardly move for the crowd of ‘humble’ people. ‘Are you ok Sister Shirley?’ Estera (Hospice Social Worker) asked. ‘Oh yes, I am very ok’. I cannot explain, but these people engage my heart. Is this really the ‘Shirley’ I knew? Methinks not. Baby Florin sat on the bed, he was very interested in the bananas protruding from one of the food bags we had brought. He has developed a ‘liking’ for food during his long stay in hospital. Florin was fed on sugar and water for the first eighteen months of his two years, his family are so poor they can barely afford food. They are a new family to Give With Your Heart Feeding Programme and so as Estera duly completed the required documentation I chatted to the ‘throng’ who were ‘squeezing’ into every corner of the small room. ‘I am seventeen, this is my wife and baby son. I am…’ And so it went on. There are eight children in this family with ages ranging two – twenty years (Florin is an Uncle). If I am to serve the weak, the wounded, the rejected of society, then my heart must be affected deeply and I must exercise His will, His guidance in my life even to love the unloved.
Going Deeper! ‘Lord how much deeper is there to go?’ There in the corner of a one room ‘abode’ a young boy lay in bed, very sick. His father died recently from lung and stomach cancer and he (as the man of the house) had tried to chop/stack wood, preparing for the winter months ahead. Emanuel suffers from asthma and was very weak. He has many concerns having just lost his father and knowing his mother is ill, suffering from leukaemia, epilepsy, diabetes and asthma. They live in unimaginable poor conditions and receive a weekly allowance of twenty eight pounds. Sister Cornelia stood at the fence until the car was out of sight. It wasn’t just the food provided by Tell Romania, it was someone taking an interest, someone to ‘share a moment’, ‘share an evening’ in a home lacking in many things but love was evident. As we drove away, she waved, calling out: ‘Please you will come back again?’ Humility must begin with me, to simply do ‘acts of kindness’ quietly and unnoticed – they must be my priority, my focus, but certainly not my praise. The borders keep extending. Must I? Can I? Yes!
My weekly visit to Casa Grace Team Meeting confirmed that God sees beyond. Knocking gently on the office door, as I entered I was greeted by a lady who lived 100 k. from Oradea. Casa Grace helped her rebuild her life offering food, hygiene, clothes, and school transportation fees. She has three children and suffered abuse from her violent alcoholic husband and now lives alone with her children. The youngest child has multiple diseases, paralysed and suffering daily from epilepsy. Why was she there? Why on the day, the hour of my visit? Brother Nigel Martin (Larne Elim Church) sent one child’s disabled wheelchair. The request of this mother? The wheelchair will be taken to the village on arrival of the pallets. We serve an all seeing, all knowing God. God’s way of working is the joy of service.
Walking into the Centre alone while Monika (Director, Casa Grace) parked the car outside the grounds, the Mum’s waiting in the foyer came to greet me. ‘Welcome, Welcome, you are back, a long time you have been away’. Lots of activity as the carpet was being fitted in Adam’s Room and excitement in the air. Four pallets will arrive Monday /Tuesday filled with items for the designated projects. Next update will focus on God’s Provision – a new beginning and an exciting project.
My heart was pounding, in fact missing a beat as I knocked on the door of Adam’s wing, I couldn’t wait to see him, I longed to hold him, but he wasn’t there; Adam is back in hospital, in fact seven of the abandoned babies are in hospital just now suffering from various infections. I find the work in the centre a challenge, yet a constant burden, as I learn that over two hundred babies are abandoned in Romania each month. Baby ‘I’ (six months) abandoned, was introduced to me, as I held him close, he just wanted to feel loved and protected. Things I want to do (even though difficult), so much to accomplish, I am constrained by love as I learn daily that God is in complete control.
Returning to Emanuel University I asked Monika to take me to visit with her friend Emese. These present moments are filled with such pain just now for this family. In my ‘quiet moments’ I shed tears of love asking the Lord for sufficient grace for these precious lives I merely touch but for a moment. Two beautiful young daughters and a loving husband rushing to the weekly prayer meeting in the local Baptist Church. ‘Please, may I offer you refreshment before we leave?’ ‘Please go, I am happy to share a moment with your wife’, I replied. Emese was just that to me ‘a refreshment’. Even from the weakness of her frail body, there was a presence of strength, a steadfast trust that God was walking with her during these anxious months of terminal illness. Her flame is not quenched as she softly speaks of her desire to return to teaching her Sunday School Class, caring for her home, her family. She is settled in trust in devotion that He will be Her God.
I ask you to pray with me in the next step of faith, that together our love will see the faces of those in need of our help, our prayers. ‘He knoweth His sheep by name’. May we have a burden for the lost and dying and may we be a source of ‘daily bread’ to the searching souls. Bread, from the Giver of Life.
Shirley, 15 October 2017