‘How much more?’

‘The world is crumbling beneath our feet’. ‘Nothing is normal these days’. ‘Will there ever be an answer?’

Expressions from hearts overwhelmed by immeasurable pressure, the unwelcome darkness overtaking their tiny glimmer of hope that perhaps today will be different. They can only see glimpses of unresolved answers to the unsettled questions hidden in the secret corners of their heart. ‘ What if …? Will today bring a breakthrough?’  The distraught mother wandering the empty streets in search of food; the beggar whose hope of finding even a crumb in the garbage bin remains hungry for another day; the elderly widow trying to work her small plot, hoping her one hen will provide lunch; the homeless covered in damp cardboard, shivering, stretched beyond limit, with no place to drop anchor.  Their vision is impaired, there is no beauty in their world.

Dr. John Baillie penned: “Forbid that I should walk through Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes’.  One moment is all I ask, one moment of silent prayer for lives enslaved by poverty and without hope. They do not want our pity, they need our compassion.  Perhaps our love will not be returned, but our outstretched hand could be the one moment they have been waiting for.  Their personal miracle that someone cared.

‘SUCEAVA’ is under total quarantine, as they have the highest number of infected people and fatalities related to COVID-19 in the country.  The peak has yet to come.  At least one hundred and eighty-one medical workers (including forty-three doctors) are infected within the local hospital. Over one hundred infected nurses remain at home, with the hospital lacking medical workers.  Shortage of medical supplies result in patients being prioritised as to who has the most need. One cannot comprehend the impact this has on patients inside and outside the hospital.   Suceava is a closed city with no entry or exit; this state of emergency will be reviewed on 15th May.  Owing to a number of resignations, the hospital is now under military rule. Gabi and her team (Iochebed) continue to work from home, supporting clients by telephone consultations.  Gabi travelled through the empty streets of Suceava to open the centre as new mothers needed dried milk for their new born babies, food and clothing for their children and mothers in waiting needing a birth pack which we also provide.  

As I looked at the little faces of the babies born during this time of crisis, tears filled my eyes. Unashamedly I bowed my head in thanksgiving that we can be involved in this amazing work which recognises life is precious, life is God given.  Women face hardship and poverty, young teenage girls bereft of home and family, Roma men unable to find work during these days of crisis.  They tremble with the pain of no money, no food.

The noise of hail stones hitting my window just now caused me to look up. The skies were dark and overcast and yet in one corner I could see a faint rainbow. I thought of those without a rainbow who were locked within their heart, hope has been stripped away by cruel circumstance and darkness is their only form of sunlight. The home call of the Director of the Regional Baptist Association and other pastors has created fear in many churches.  Pastor Catalin Croitor was one of the first Romanian students to enter the Irish Baptist College in the early nineties. He resided in the College, Sandown Road, Belfast and was affectionally known as one of ‘Daddy’s Boys’ as he joined the Moore family every Sunday for lunch.  A close bond has remained for many years.  Catalin, now pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Suceava, has known the loss of a young man (42) within his own church family; also there are village homes where COVID-19 has taken a loved one. He and his wife Paula minister to the sick and share the Word of God.  We cannot control what is occurring but there is One who can calm the raging storms if we ‘Be Still’ and know that He is God.

  • Pray for wisdom and guidance to know how best to help the vulnerable
  • Pray for doctors, nurses, medical teams in hospitals
  • Pray for pastors, their wives to be guided by the lord in all decision and actions. 

Scars from the war of the pandemic sweeping throughout the world has caused isolation and separation. My beloved Oradea, my patients, children, families and of course, my Dora waiting patiently for my knock.   How I miss what has become the joy of my heart.  Emanuel Hospice continue to minister to the terminally ill.  Love and care override restrictions and the fear of infection.  This week the number who have lost their battle to cancer is fifty.  The team work under tremendous pressure. We commend each member into higher hands, knowing each step will be guided and each breath guarded.  

Yesterday it was announced junior schools would recommence in September.  Senior pupils will resume on 2nd June until the end of July when all examinations will be completed.   Casa Grace had to cancel Summer Camp this year as hospitality/hostels will be the last to open.  Dora misses our Kingdom Kids (orphans, down syndrome, disabled, abandoned babies) Neli, Berta, Marilena wait permission to visit the growing number of needy families who are affected by COVID-19.  Families within our two-year programme urgently need basic medication for diabetes, heart related problems – there is need everywhere. Dana is longing to recommence her vital contact with village ladies who attend the Vocational Training classes.  Pray the team will be covered and protected as families continue to come, especially those travelling from outlying villages.

My three foundations, Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Iochebed all serve with a tender heart. They feel the sadness, dry the tears of those who come desperate for supplies, medication.  These are difficult days with total lockdown, no employment and yet rent must be paid or they face eviction.  The cost of basic food has doubled (e.g., bread, flour, potatoes, grains, pasta …)  How will I respond?

‘Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of you, let my first impulse be to worship you, let my first word be your Name, let my first action be to kneel before you in prayer’ (Dr. John Baillie).

Shirley,  April 30, 2020

My Daily Bread

‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread’ (Job 23: 12) NIV

‘I hoped today would be different’.  The cry from a tear stained cheek, reliving overwhelming memories of former days.  Lives emotionally damaged by the overwhelming hurricanes, floods, tornadoes of struggle, where the economic downturn brought loss, want, hunger and separation. A natural longing, a hope that today would be different.  ‘Today is mine, Tomorrow is none of my business.  If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now’ (Elisabeth Elliot).

In the cities of Suceava, Arad and Timisoara, conditions worsen, hospitals unable to house the sick, staff unable to cope under increasing pressure.  Three hospitals remain closed and military control is still imminent.  Our beloved friends in Oradea live under extremely restrictive conditions; one visit for groceries, medicine, wood permitted between the hours of 11am and 1pm.  The dedicated team of Emanuel Hospice Homecare Team continue to visit the terminally ill.  This past weekend was Easter in Romania; the team continued to work throughout the Easter holidays to ensure medical procedures were administered.  Forty-seven patients had died in our care and in the county of Bihor, seven people have died as a result of COVID19.

Zeno (2), is high risk and needs to remain isolated. His older brother (7) is so gentle and cares for his baby brother with such love, it would melt your heart.  Their mother cared for the abandoned children in the hospital but now needs to remain at home.  She is so thankful to Agape Fellowship Church for sending the Silicone Tubes. 

My precious friends, Magdalena, Ecaterina (both in their eighties), John and Elizabeth, fill my thoughts and yes, I wonder if I will ever feel the warmth of their hugs or see their smiles of welcome again?

As usual, I retire late evening to think when I should be sleeping.  Last night was no different.  I found myself waking every hour with the same question flooding my mind: ‘How deep am I anchored?’  ‘How deep are my roots?’  Both unseen, yet of significant importance – to be anchored, deeply planted.  The same in building; our foundations need to be firm and secure. I have great admiration for architectural excellence displayed in ancestral buildings, stately homes etc.  I am not equipped to build but in the thoughts of a quiet heart early this morning I found myself building.  Yes, building a house of hope, restoration, love, safety, peace.   The homes I visit are not so. No evidence of grandeur; only silhouettes of the outcast, shadows of rejected lives whose circumstance have made them strangers within their own community.  They walk alone without identity, without a future.

Estera brought joy to my heart as she sent the images of two families receiving food and goodies for the children from the money we sent.  Damian’s Mum expresses her love and thanks to you for your prayers, her heart is broken as she speaks of the loss of her only son Damian.  It is a house of sadness, yet because they were remembered, it brought a faint smile.

Many will remember Ishmael who entered our care as a young boy.   He is now ten and during his short lifetime has undergone over twenty surgeries.  He remains extremely thin and his colostomy bag is uncomfortable and causing pain as he continues to grow and mature.  Florina has been a faithful mum and a godly example to her children; the entire family attend the local Pentecostal Church.  Florina was thrilled to receive the many bags of groceries and her teenage son overjoyed to receive one bag of Haribo, yes one bag! It doesn’t need to be expensive; just to know we care.

During a recent skype call to Romania, I asked a very precious friend, ‘How are you? I worry about you, are you ok…?’  Her reply touched my heart: ‘I am well, I am always worrying for other people, the patients, the little children, my colleagues, for dear ones to be safe and not catch the virus.  I trust in the Lord; He is in control’.  

These are the people I have the privilege to serve alongside; their humble spirit, gentle nature teaches me so much.  Please continue to remember the teams of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace and Iochebed. Also, the young Pastors who are finding this situation overwhelming; the families who look at an empty chair where once a loved one’s presence graced the room, and whose love filled their heart.  

‘I hoped today would be different’.

Help me build a House where laughter will replace tears, faith will replace doubt, strength will replace weakness.  A house that will reach out and touch ‘Even One’.

Shirley, April 22, 2020

FOOTNOTE:

George Muller wrote: As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time unless he eats, so is with the inner man. What is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God – not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe. No, we must consider what we read, ponder over it, and apply it to our hearts. 

Tell Romania have transferred funding for medicine, food and hygiene provision to cover urgent needs throughout 2020.  Thank you for your genuine interest in reading the writings from ‘My Pen’, your consideration, pondering over this ministry and placing your love in action have fed the hungry.  Without your support real people would only be numbers. People matter to God and so they matter to us.

Changing scenes – a new normal

‘He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth.’ (Psalm 104: 14. NKJV).

Nothing will ever be the same again’.  Raging wars of fear expressed by these seven words from those who knock the door of Casa Grace asking for food.  The mystery of broken lives gripped by fear, experiencing the loneliness of isolation, they are without hope, they lack purpose and for them ‘Nothing will ever be the same again’.

Cities under curfew, hospitals, roads, streets under military control, total lockdown with no entry, no exit. New born babies born with Covid 19. Harsher penalties imposed; this is the reality in Romania. The days of queuing for food have returned, supplies are limited and many foods as in flour, sugar, grains are unavailable.  Those sixty-five and over are only permitted to shop (necessities) between the hours of 11a m and 1p m.  And so, they come, walking roads of emptiness and poverty, crippled by circumstances and tangled lives.  They are hungry.  They are desperate.

Fifteen images can be found on the Tell Romania Facebook page.

Figuratively speaking I get caught up with my thoughts, especially at night when I am supposed to be asleep – sleep will not come.  Last night in the quiet hours of darkness, the Lord assured me (through his word) that he is the vine and I am only a branch, perhaps even a small twig.  BUT (my famous but), if I remain in him (and this is the secret) I will display luscious fruit.  I thought of the Lord’s loving and guiding presence in touching hearts of the many branches who have sent donations, placing food on empty tables.  Tears filled my eyes as I saw my precious families receive basic supplies. My friend Monika and I would have been delivering together; but not in God’s plan this season.  Whether I am in Northern Ireland or Romania the Feeding Programme will continue in his plan and purpose.  I can only continue as long as we together dig deeper roots into fertile soil, waiting for the harvest.   

Hearts have been softened, faint smiles replace darkness, little ones laugh again. Monika surprised the children with the hundreds of Easter Eggs purchased by Dr. Moore and Haribo sweets donated by the Henderson Group.

Next week my friend Estera will be sending images of Emanuel Hospice families receiving their food provision.   Please pray for protection as they minister to dying patients, risking the price of their own safety out of love and devotion for others.

To each of you I say ‘Thank you’ for building walls of trust, restoring destroyed lives. We are branches of the true and living vine and we will continue to produce luscious fruit in and out of season.

‘PRAY FOR FAMILIES WHERE COVID19 HAS TAKEN A LOVED ONE’

Lord, where would you have me plant today? I listen. I obey. I follow.

Shirley, April 14, 2020

‘Housebound or Housebuilding?’

 ‘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

Servant; Service.

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I might have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.

We are pilgrims on a journey;
We are family on the road;
We are here to help each other
Walk the miles and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joys and sorrows
Till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in Heaven
We shall find such harmony,
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you;
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I might have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.

(Richard A M Gillard)

Gillard sees a Servant as one who is strong to endure and who continues to serve through trial, displaying commitment and confidence that does not allow fear to play a part or have a role during days of testing.  One who serves with a stillness of soul, gleaned from personal moments of quietness.

The prodigal, the terminally ill, the homeless, villages of poverty, hundreds of children bereft of love and without identity longing for a raindrop of hope.  Servant hands can be outstretched in love, seeing each day as a day of opportunity.  Today can be our day of opportunity to prayerfully remember the work of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace Foundation and Iochebed, where staff face personal battles of separation from family, isolated in order to continue their love of serving others.

The situation in Romania is escalating. The reality, many face days of crisis, curfew, chaos.  Police are patrolling the streets and roads, as Romanians continue to travel from Italy during the night.  The State of Romania have issued a restriction order requiring anyone walking or driving outside to display a letter of authorisation; otherwise a fine will be imposed.    Difficult times as many feel their world is crumbling. Their whole security has been shaken and they walk aimlessly in the midst of a Valley of Tears.  The Psalmist David reminds us in Psalm 46: v1 ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in days of trouble’. My friend, Pastor David McFarland and I had occasion to speak just now by telephone and he shared with me how God indeed was our help; how we are held and of how our hope is in him alone.  Amazing we should both be pondering the same thoughts.

Further in the Psalm (v10) we hug to our hearts this precious verse: ‘Be still, and know that I am God’.  I find such comfort in the immense power of stillness, as we realise instead of the inner struggles and restlessness, we can find that he is the Master of every plan, every step we take.  When we leave it all quietly at his feet, we know no words such as failure, fear, foe, only future and that is already secured.

Many doctors and personnel staff working in Suceava Emergency Hospital are now infected with Coronavirus as they were unaware patients receiving treatment(s) were already exposed. Also a pastor (64) from Arad was hospitalised, treated for three days without staff knowing he too was infected. The pastor died, resulting in the closure of the entire hospital.  Another pastor from Arad has since died. We think of families and  Church fellowship left without a Shepherd.

Emanuel University, High School, Churches throughout Romania remain closed.  Our thoughts turn to the elderly village ladies who live for their Church Family, walking many miles to be part of Sunday worship and the young Theology students now Pastors trying to lead by example.

Hospice Staff, now only permitted to visit in extreme emergency terminal cases to deliver medicine or administer treatment. Their day to day contact with patients has been cancelled. Dr Beni was stopped by the police and asked to show his paper of authorisation.  The restrictions in Romania are similar to those of our own, personnel staff working as a maximum of two persons to comply with regulations.

Monika and I are in daily contact (by telephone) she continues to monitor the Casa Grace office alone. It has now become a life line for those in deep despair and poverty.   Orphanages, Centres remain closed as they cannot risk children becoming infected.

Covid 19 is causing panic in the Roma villages of Suceava. The Iochebed team continue to counsel ladies from their homes by telephone.  Real lives are still in need of medicine, food, finance, wood for tiny village homes housing many children.  Recently we purchased Dried Milk for babies – total cost £420.

Friday past was my day of opportunity, as £6,000 was forwarded for Food Provision. The evidence that God’s goodness and love holds our future.  We are branches of one tree and yet during this storm not one branch has broken; you continue to grow in your faithful support.  Our branches are not weakening and I listen for the birds to sing during the icy days to come.  He holds the tree with its bare branches, the hail storms, the winds.   We are not forgotten.

Today is beautiful, through your giving you have deepened our roots ‘In Him’

Shirley, March 30, 2020.

Trip postponed

Hamilton and Shirley were due to travel to Romania tomorrow 10th March. But they have been advised to postpone their trip. One of Shirley’s friends most anxious to see her writes today, “But I think it is wise that you took this decision as the virus is spreading really fast.” 

Romania has just decided “to close all the schools in the country for a week starting Wednesday March 11, amid the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country. The decision could be prolonged based on the evolution of the coronavirus outbreak”. And extensive restrictions have been imposed on flights and checks on all land borders.

Please pray for all Hamilton’s and Shirley’s friends in Romania as they seek to serve the Lord in such challenging situations. And please pray for Shirley’s patients and children as they are all very vulnerable and many may succumb easily to this virus especially in the villages where she and her colleagues serve the terminally ill. Shirley is heartbroken for them and longs to be with them but wisdom has had ro prevail.

Let us all call upon God, who is sovereign over all things to be merciful and pray that we might see His Name magnified in this dark hour. 

by David on behalf of Hamilton and Shirley

Usefulness

Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.
(Helen Keller)

Another day, however no day is ordinary in the Moore household but today tiny nodding white flowers caused me to think on the differing seasons of life. Seasons teach many lessons regardless of age. ‘Hamilton, come and see’, I called. We both smiled as we encountered the first flower of the year, the snowdrop, which is the symbol of hope. Hope that perhaps the harsh winter will soon be over.  I find myself waiting for the differing seasons displaying the pure and delicate freesia, the aroma almost indescribable, symbolising friendship; the elegant gladioli, symbolising strength; or the rose, symbolising humility, displayed in regal splendour, all blooming for a time, purpose and season. I wonder what season we find ourselves in today?   

The year two thousand and twenty will bring seasons of Separation; Trust; Courage; Faithfulness; Devotion; Love.  What of my own season?  It must be a season of purpose, serving with devotion and love. Whatever time remaining, I need to make time count, remembering that Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. BUT love never fails.   

What would I do if?  Question after question floods my mind but one thing I can do, ‘I can go’.  No beautiful flowers or inviting sidewalks grace the dirt roads of poverty, only crushed flowers and withered leaves pave the road.  Recently, watching a programme based on Romania, I felt tears streaming down my face as a remark was made by the commentator concerning a gypsy man driving his horse and cart ‘Romania’s Steptoe and Son’.  These are my people; this is my home. The trees may be dormant, no beauty in their garden, yet the fragrance of this barren land is filled with richness to me.

Our terminally ill patients hold tightly to fine threads of faith: Gyongy (48) mostly alone in her apartment, now unable to walk due to bone metastasis, her right leg was swollen and full of infection, a metal rod had to be inserted in the upper part of her leg, her days are days of constant pain.  Pray for the Hospice team as they share the gospel, that she may come to know the Lord.  Daniela (50) a large tumour extended over her body covering a large area, suffers extreme pain which cannot be controlled by medication. A course of Chemotherapy has been administered with little effect as the tumour cannot be removed by surgery.

My little friend Bianca is very poorly, (Renal Cancer) she is extremely weak and her weight is plummeting.  Mihalia, her mother has no home and cares for her three young daughters in the corner of one room in her mother’s village home, a gypsy village far from Oradea.  Our situations of life differ, we mostly receive what we desire; rarely do we hear or know the word ‘denial’. Not so for many of my friends in these empty fields.  A tiny boy, cancer ripping through his little body, the eyes of his mother watching and caring with love.  Rubber tubes were the only available means of food entering his stomach.  The cries were heart breaking.  

The ampules of Hyoscine (Butilscopulamine) were finished, dying patients suffering secretions, a season of urgent need.   Who do I consult?  Where do I go?  How can I finance?  The Lord touched the hearts of Agape Church, Belfast.  Silicone Tubes, Ampules purchased and they are now in Romania.  Firstly ask; Secondly act.  God completes the work.  This morning my local pharmacy donated items that were ‘Handfuls on Purpose’ for the Hospice Team.  What can we do today to demonstrate our hearts of love?  Who needs our help, our care, our prayers?  Even One!

During a recent PowerPoint presentation, the pangs of loss filled my heart as I spoke of the children I had loved and lost; the heartache of mothers, fathers, overwhelmed me.  A picture of Damian appeared and it hurt deep inside.  Damian’s mother is in the depths of grief. Estera and I will visit this precious family as a first priority.  I have never known motherhood but I love ‘My Children’ and want to weave a tapestry of hope as those hurting hearts try to collect the remaining threads of life.  A mother’s calling is a high calling of love and sacrifice; please pray for Damian’s family – they need our prayers.

Recently I shared the story of young Alex who is only one of many severely mentally and physically disabled teenagers in Romania.  Many autistic children with mental retardation, displaying aggressive behaviours, yet when offered one of our ‘treats’ we supply monthly, they melt like candle wax and behave, knowing they will receive a reward of one single sweet. Today I received a donation of ten cartons of Haribo from the Henderson Group.  The flower of giving. 

Kingdom Kids receive therapy from my friend Dora who has been nominated by the Director of Child Protection for the award of the most active volunteer of the year.  The flower of blessing is mine on this occasion to serve alongside Dora who knows each Orphan, Down Syndrome, Disabled Child and Abandoned Baby by name.  Her therapy sessions are filled with kindness and we thank all our supporters for their prayers, in comparison to other children in Romania, our children remained well and free from fever or infection.  I will accompany Dora to a new orphanage during March and April, I wonder what flowers will be in my bouquet?  Perhaps a tiny blue flower ‘Forget Me Not’ will confirm my roots need to go deeper?

 One family in desperate poverty is composed of a mother and seven children.  Her husband died from cancer five years ago. Shortly after his death, their small village home accidently burned to the ground. With help from others they have been able to purchase a derelict gypsy home.  This precious mother holds seven flowers in her hand. She has no money for repairs, their income is £26 per person per month.

Night To Shine, an organisation based in Oradea, arranged a special event together with an Evangelical Church for special people.  Eighty-five chosen people attended and My Dora was guest of honour. John, her father proudly pushed a shy Dora through the centre isle to a receptive crowd of people.  Dora was so happy but still wanted to know if Sister Shirley remembers it is her birthday in March. What do you think? 

Bread for the Hungry was delivered this week.   I am deeply moved by the bakery donating this provision during 2020.  Many nights, unable to sleep, I see the children, the elderly searching through the rubbish bins.  The pangs of hunger increase, I am thankful the flower of faith will never wither. 

Georgina (16) was raised in an orphanage.  She met a young boy who took her home to his Mother’s home where they shared one room as a couple, resulting in the young teenager becoming pregnant.  Last November the boy went to work abroad. Georgina has had no contact with him and is now homeless.  It would appear he has no plans to return home to his village in Suceava.  A baby girl was born to Georgina during December. She came to Iochebed, desperate and alone, requesting help as she does not want to leave her baby in an orphanage.  We have agreed to support Georgina and her baby with dried milk, clothes, pampers and wood to keep warm in this freezing winter.  The flower of kindness.

Planting is believing, proceeded by days of preparation, cultivation and then expectancy.  My garden is filled with flowers, giving pleasure as I trace God’s promises.  I ask no questions, I need no explanations, the flowers of gentleness are my peace.  This mission trip is one of the longest as a couple, Hamilton and I plan to be in Romania, not returning until perhaps early May.   

Small seeds already planted are growing – all that is needed for Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Iochebed, Kingdom Kids, Feeding Programmes, the flowers of faith have provided.  My garden is filled with quiet flowers; ladies whose spades dig deep.  I go, prepared to plant thanks to the seeds of love sown by many brothers and sisters who have provided all that is needed.  I have never known such blessing and know the seed of thankfulness has taken root in my heart.

The land is ready for planting. Pray as we leave within days; pray the Lord will go before us and we will be a blessing as we hold in our hand the key that will open new doors.   

All the way my Saviour leads me

Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;

Hope for today BUT what of tomorrow?’

This year, let us dissolve all our hopes into a SINGLE HOPE, to know Christ and be found in Him.
May this be the year to desire a radically transformed, deeper, truer, knowing Christ as our ALL SUFFICIENT ONE’ (Elisabeth Elliot)

A new year, 2019 gone forever with only memories remaining.   Three hundred and sixty-five days passed so quickly, circumstances changed our perspective and influenced our thoughts.  Many remember cherished conversations that will be no more and yet knew their loss was replaced with an allocated portion of God’s illimitable grace.  At times we find it difficult to hide our feelings yet we have a calmness of soul to know that our Heavenly Father is sensitive to everything concerning us.  The Lord understands when we struggle with the ‘if’s’ and ‘why’s’ and invites us to take our inward thoughts and leave them at his feet.  These are tiny stepping stones of blessing as we tread softly into another year knowing his road is not a road of disappointment.  I came across a notebook belonging to my darling Mum.  She was obviously studying ‘Mary of Bethany’, Mum’s focus was how often Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.  I pray as we enter 2020, we will devote our lives for another year and remain at his feet.

What of tomorrow?

Spreadsheet looking impressive, outlining commitments, projects for 2020, still I question ‘But what of Tomorrow?’  The Bread of Life for dying patients; bread without scarceness for the hungry; health for the weak; hundreds of children, babies in need of love;  Cighid.  These are desert places, wildernesses of broken, unloved and forgotten lives.  I ask the Lord to walk with me, overtake the path of my remaining days, help me replace the fear of hearts entering the twilight shadows of endless night with the glory of his presence. To pierce the hardest of hearts in love and telling them of a greater love.  ‘But what of Tomorrow?’ Everything is achievable by faith and whatever life may bring as one of old I quote: ‘My Hope is in God’.  D L Moody penned: ‘If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!’  I go forward into 2020, the smallest gift I can give is love. I give this willingly and with all of my heart, placing the resources necessary into Higher Hands.

I think of the dedicated teams of Emanuel Hospice, Casa Grace, Iochebed, Cighid, Orphanage Centre and I say to them in the words of Andrew Murray ‘Strengthen yourself in the Omnipotence of God.  Do not say, ‘Is God able?’ Say, rather, ‘God is able.’ ‘May they individually know the presence, the blessing of the Lord each morning as they rise to face another day of service and challenge.

My mind was in turmoil for a few days and no matter how hard I tried I could not release the tension overwhelming me.  Two precious children within the Hospice care occupied every waking moment.  So much so, I wrote to Estera expressing my concern.

Dami is unconscious, his parents and siblings are devastated as they watch helplessly by his bed.  There is no future course of treatment or surgery possible as his brain tumour continues to grow rapidly.  I have met Dami’s family and immediately felt the love of this God centred home.  There is an obvious bond between the parents and children, a loving home where both parents offer protection, friendship, discipline, all the skills and ability to ensure their children grow within the confines of a loving family. Their pain is real and life is shattered just now, please remember them in these days of uncertainty.

Ella’s condition has deteriorated, she has seventeen different forms of diagnoses related to her rare form of cancer and is now in hospital.  She is unable to walk, unable to eat as the food will not remain in her stomach.  During Estera’s visit, Ella was so cold she was blowing her hair dryer over her body for warmth.  Ella would require a bone marrow transplant but with the current weakness of her body the doctors are using caution. Ella’s Mum, Angelina has known a lifetime of sorrow as both her children have the same rare form of cancer; the heart of this mother is broken as she is now alone with this burden having lost her husband   It is difficult for the medical team to reach a final decision regarding an accurate prognosis – please pray for the medical team as they reach a forthcoming solution.

The elderly continue to suffer.  Mircea, a gentleman of sixty-eight years, diagnosed with Laryngeal cancer (malignancy of the larynx).  He recently lost his eyesight and is unable to walk.  His days are filled with quietness, loneliness.  One of many.  The Musak family who mourn the loss of a husband and father who was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer.  The pain is overwhelming for his three children especially Eszter (10) who has become withdrawn, suffering in silence.  Difficult for the heart of a mother who also has her own pain.  My treasures Catalina, Magdalena, Elizabeth, to name but three, need to feel my love and your prayers.  Sharing also the gospel is our goal and many need to know the Lord.

The fierce winds of Storm Brendan hit Northern Ireland this week and many faced floods, storm damage, electricity cuts. My thoughts as I stayed indoors safe and warm went to the small village homes where there are no roads, only pools of water, no running water, no electricity, twigs burning, bringing heat for a short time and in fact also cook a small morsel of food for many hungry little mouths.  Paula (24) three babies, no home.  Her husband went to Germany to find work.   He has decided to remain in Germany alone and disown his wife and children.  The shock was too much for her to bear and she is ill with many complications.  Our team in Iochebed offered spiritual and emotional support, food and dried milk for the babies.  Without your commitment I would not be able to maintain the Feeding Programmes, and babies, children and families would remain hungry, walking the cold streets of Romania searching for food.

Another family within the care of Casa Grace.  A single father with five children.  I remember visiting this room and that is what it is – a room within a social block of apartments, communal washroom for many families, no running water.   Hungry eyes searching my face, a father desperate for hope, a solution in his life of despair. The father was raised in an Orphanage and has lost two wives.  They have no money and although assisted by social services, he was unable to pay the rental due in December.   Countless people face life without food, grateful for a morsel of hot soup available to the homeless.  Five hungry children surrounded by empty cupboards.  Christmas Day would certainly not be  ‘A Merry Christmas’ for this family.  The team from Casa Grace brought gifts for the children and from the Feeding Programme we were able to provide food and pay the December rental from our crisis fund.   How long can this family survive in these present circumstances?  How long before this father reaches breaking point.  Please pray through the witness, love and care of the Casa team this father may know the reality of a living hope filling his heart with the knowledge that a new and living hope will provide strength and sustain grace for each day.

The word hope I take for faith; and indeed, hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith. (John Calvin)

I am filled with knots of difficulty regarding the projections of 2020. I now turn the matter over to the Lord knowing as in the past he has his chosen ones to walk with me.  Problems only become tangled when we hold on with our own hands instead of releasing them into hands that will untangle and provide.

‘These My Little Ones’.  Working with children, adults with disabilities involves love, patience until even after months, weeks, hours or working, a glimmer of light appears.  Dora has devoted her life to these marginalised children, children with disabilities and children from poverty-stricken families within the Casa Grace Feeding Programme.  Each mission trip I spend quality time with Dora and the children watching them play in the room provided by Tell Romania.  We are praying about expanding our work into another area of children with disorders and on my return early March I will visit these Orphanages with Dora.    

Three Feeding Programmes, Orphan, Disabled, Down Syndrome Children, Abandoned Babies, Cighid Adult Orphans, still there is more.  What shall I do?  How many years do I have?  Retirement?  I may not see the end in sight but God already knows how he will continue his plans and the purpose of his providence.  C H Spurgeon penned: ‘All the mysterious arrangements of providence work for our good’.

‘Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint’.
 
Isaiah 40:28-31.

I concluded my previous blog stating: ‘There is always garner in the grain’.   A granary is really a storehouse filled with threshed grain.  Sufficient food for the dark and chilling days of winter.  It is winter permanently in many homes I visit.  Hundreds facing the reality of eternity; streets filled with homeless men and women and yes, teenagers without identity; children longing for love.  Bethsaida (from Hebrew/Aramaic) means house of fish.  Will you throw out your net with me to ensure we have food, we have grain in our granary. 

Let’s go fishing

Shirley, January 16, 2020

N B: We return to our beloved Romania on Tuesday, MARCH 10TH, 2020

P.S. Just minutes after this was posted I received this message from Estera

Dear Shirley, 
Damian’s father called me today to tell me that he passed away. He has seen the Lord s face. What a joy for him! How sad for the family! 
Thank you so much for all the support for this precious family! 

Estera

Without excuse

The highest form of worship is the worship of unselfish Christian service. The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.’ (Billy Graham)

The pace of the past two weeks filled my heart with an overwhelming emotion.  I abandoned the thoughts troubling me and for a brief moment tried to calm my hungering heart. I sat quietly; the precious words found in the book of Isaiah filled my mind: ‘But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you’.  How precious those moments when you know this is for me, this is exactly what I need for the ‘now’ times.   

And there was more: ‘Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink, even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk, it’s all free’.  ‘It’s all free’.   I thought of the beggar sitting (almost frozen) in the market place; the scantily dressed boy whose whole demeanour spoke of total destitution; the elderly trying to sell their lace, homeless men and women searching through refuse bins with hungry eyes in the hope of finding a morsel of bread, perhaps their first ‘meal’ for many days. ‘It’s all free’, I kept repeating over and over to myself: The hunger of a searching heart can be fed and their thirst assuaged.  

Tears hit the keyboard as I write because I long to echo this invitation to those who are dying, to those living in such extreme poverty, words could not explain, hungry children hoping you abandon your shopping trolley, the 50 cents in the slot will buy one pastry.  And yet there is ‘Living Bread’ available.   One’s first reaction would be ‘Beware’, smile and walk on.  Walk on when you are captivated with someone who just wants to be noticed or to matter.  Wasn’t it William Booth who said: ‘You cannot warm the hearts of people with God’s love if they have an empty stomach and cold feet’.

These days I find myself walking unfamiliar roads, I can only take one step at a time and as I do the Lord points to the signposts I must follow.  Only yesterday visiting ‘Kingdom Kids’ in the Orphanage: Abandoned Babies (beautiful little darlings), Orphans, Down Syndrome and Disabled Children. I met Alex (13) an only child who is mentally and physically disabled. ‘Chow’ I said and I received the most amazing smile – although I think the smile was in the direction of the Quality Street tin in my hand as he disregarded the croissant his father was feeding him.  But this was one of God’s divine appointments.  Alex and his mother Alexandra lived with her parents while the husband went to work in Spain as he was unable to find employment in Romania. When Alex was only eight years old, Alexandra was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently died. Following the funeral, the grandparents asked their son-in-law and grandson to move out and they have been trying to survive alone these past five years. Alex attends a special school and has many health issues. He is one of our children at Casa Grace who receive therapy under the direction of my friend Dora. Unable to walk, communicate, he is a happy boy but I am very aware the father urgently required medical items and, in this situation, I need to be an Innkeeper.  

But Innkeepers have helpers, yes? Returning back to Emanuel, I immediately contacted Carol who is the wife of the pastor of Agape Church and also a nurse. I related the story of Alex and the pending need. ‘Shirley I can sort this, no problem’. came the reply.  Alison telephoned later in the evening, I updated her that boxes would be arriving from Carol.  ‘Amazing’,said Alison, ‘I purchased packs of these just to have a stock’.  Alison may have no stock in hand but God knew the need before I did and placed it on the hearts of these two sisters.  This is God’s Divine Appointment and oh the blessing of proving God as we listen, wait and trust.

Driving to Cighid, I was overcome with sadness as I travelled the unkept and unused roads. I found myself thinking of King Solomon with all his riches; he had everything money could buy and yet there was a void within screaming to be quenched.  Wealth can never bring peace of mind, provide the warmth of a home, a mother’s love, friendship.  Driving through the gates of Cighid, a sense of coldness filled me as I watched lone figures walking, aimlessly walking to nowhere.  Monika, Mihai and four students from the Music programme in Emanuel University were not deterred by the howling wind and rain. Our hearts were filled with joy as we anticipated sharing the Christmas story and singing the beautiful carols of this blessed season.  We hurriedly unpacked the dolls, trucks and sweets from the van, trying to avoid the mud and puddles.  The image is engraved on my heart as I encountered the childlike excitement of each adult receiving their gift.  The ladies touching the dolls and gently kissing their foreheads, with laughs almost deafening, the men standing in amazement looking at the trucks; selection boxes from Agherton K & K needed no explanation, always a hit.  ‘A birthday party, thank you very much for the gifts and the lovely sweeties.’   A voice from nowhere resounded across the room and I couldn’t believe someone was actually speaking.   An older lady, unknown, unloved, quietly made her way to her bedroom and placed ‘her baby’ inside her bed and kissed her ‘Goodnight’.  Adults with the mind of a child wanting to be close to you, touch you.  At times it was impossible to breathe, so many squeezing into one small room of one of the three tiny bungalows, wanting to be noticed as they shouted ‘me, me’.  Monika said: ‘Sister Shirley I am glad you are a slim lady’.   We laughed together (breathing deeply) as friends do.  The supervisor who has been with these precious people since infancy told me they have never had a proper doll before. Give me neither poverty or riches, there are blessings money can never buy for me. Today was my blessing.

Another blessing, ‘My Dora’.  I appreciate the heart of so many who pray for Dora every morning.  It is an uphill battle for John who is feeling the process of aging.  I could see Dora was extremely tired but when she heard footsteps she shouted from her little part of heaven in the kitchen ‘I know who is coming, it is you Sister Shirley.’  Auntie Heather and Auntie Barbara sent beautiful warm fleeces and cosy mittens with other little trinkets.  ‘Shirley, Santa seems to have come early; will you ask him to come again on Christmas Eve?’  My precious Dora.  John was thrilled with the items of clothing; he struggles with medical bills, if enough remains they can buy food.  There is so much I would love to do but there is only so much I can do.  Each morning I commit myself to new acts of faith because I know and I have proved especially in personal circumstances, the Lord is my helper.

I have knocked many doors, climbed many stairs, this mission trip only to find families fighting for survival, patients too ill for visits, infant patients slowly dying, elderly patients fighting for dignity to die well.  It is in these days I know the true meaning of: ‘He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength’. The prophet Elijah knew what it was to lack courage and strength, therefore in my days of ‘overload’ instead of becoming burdened,  I need to learn to place every issue at his feet knowing that my own personal relationship with God is the most important priority I possess which is a Hungering Heart After God.  The difficulty of today will then become the strength for tomorrow.  

The Emanuel Hospice Christmas Celebration was special as I met families old and new.  Families I have known since 2012, who have loved and lost and for whom the Christmas candles no longer burn brightly; they walk only a cinder path of pain and a wilderness of heart.  A grandmother running up to me, kissing my cheek as she shared her broken heart; her only son with a promising career in football lost his battle with throat cancer; her grandson taken away, eviction.  Yet as they remember the fallen rose buds, gone with no lasting fragrance, they smile knowing you genuinely care and you do remember them.  I kept watching the entrance doors and finally I saw Simona carrying baby Abraham and her mother in law hand in hand with my little butterfly, Debora.  I made my way quickly to the back where she sat and, wiping a tear, she said ‘Thank you for coming to me, no Baby Alexandra this year’.  Love is real and for all who attended, I could see the gain outweighed the loss; the days of many loved ones have been short. Two hundred children received a special gift from Santa, I wonder how many will be there next year to sit on Sant’s knee?  Remember this precious team, they serve Christmas Day and Boxing Day, no matter the day, the hour, precious souls are nearing eternity.  What a service of opportunity. What a team and these are my friends.

Mist still lingers over the grandmother of little Stefan who died recently. She is lovingly nursing Ianko (younger brother), suffering from the same disease.  The parents want Ianko placed into an Orphanage.   Ianko is one of many terminally ill children where Christmas Day is just another day of pain, treatment, uncertainty. The greatest gift they could receive on Christmas Day is the gift of life.

A life of service is truly a Harvest and I am so thankful to see first-hand evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The patience and diligence of long hours of preparation are displayed with a look of satisfaction as Hamilton makes his way to class.  Lectures lasting four hours followed by teaching in the School of Practical Theology for three hours, speaking on Radio Voice of the Gospel, again, the Masters Programme. Study and excellence are his motto and students are made to feel ‘at home’ as they call to chat about their future plans.  Evenings is our only time to share one with the other as I am on ‘early call’ every day either with Casa or Hospice teams.  And yes, this mission trip we do have a doormat and the key rests there contentedly most days.   I smile as I identify the passion to ensure the students proceed with expectation of achieving God’s best.  To endeavour, as seen in the apostle Paul, to press toward the mark …… Stepping forward together.  ‘Glory in The Cross’ has now been released by Apostolos in London and can be obtained in most Christian Bookshops.  A new publication based on 1st John is well underway with the Pastoral Epistles translated into Romanian now being used as a basis for the Hungarian and Russian translations being released next year. 

Charles Dickens wrote: ‘Remembrance, like a candle, burns brightest at Christmastime’.  

This Christmastime will be special for hundreds of my children and patients; many candles are burning brightly.  Dolls, Trucks; Sweets; 400 Santa & Snowmen Hats filled with goodies; New dresses for the Mums with Santa Bags for the children. Time fails, words fail, one small word with a huge meaning ‘THANKYOU’. Ballycrochan, Coleraine, Millisle and Monkstown Baptist Churches; The Wardrobe, Ballyclare; Agherton, Bethany, Ballycarry Knitting Groups; Londonderry Crafting Circle; Individual donations.

As we close the door on December 2019, I wonder where have I failed, what roads have I not travelled. A year of change, a year where the world seems to be filled with sorrow and evil and I long for the shadows to be lifted from hurting hearts.   Yet 2020 will bring a storehouse of opportunity enabling my hands to reach out and touch lives from different backgrounds.  Let me have patience, let me show love, kindness, tenderness, knowing the Lord will supply every need.  The Sunrise is coming as we embark on a new year, let us go forward together assured that ‘He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep’

Shirley, December 16, 2019

FOOTNOTE: 

Parting is difficult, so many smiles will not welcome me in March.  During 2020, I pledge my support to the works to which the Lord has called me.  Not all emotional roads, I was encouraged at the recent Sewing Class Graduation held in Casa Grace, when seventeen trainees completed stage 1 of the module with another twenty-five on the waiting list.  There are three levels offered in the Vocational Training Room (Beginner Stage; Advanced Stage; Distinction) under the expert leadership of my friend Dana, who gives will all of her heart.  Helen (Londonderry) made forty personal sewing kits for every student and they were thrilled to receive this surprise gift at the ceremony.  ‘There is always garner in the grain’.

The cold winds of December

Thanksgiving and Christmas then, for us who love God, are not mere time outs from work days. They are a celebration of the gift of work itself, days on which we celebrate work by declaring our freedom. In a manner of speaking we announce that on this one day we may rest from our work, and without pressure or guilt, we may be glad. A holiday is a holy day-meant for rejoicing in God.  Elizabeth Elliot

‘The bitter winds of December’.   A cliché repeated every year as we go through the motions of ticking our ‘Things to Do List’ e.g. Christmas Fayre; Christmas tree; Christmas gifts.  Suddenly we realise last date for posting … Christmas cards are hurriedly signed without stopping to think just how much a personal message would mean to someone who sits alone with a quiet companion called ‘Memory’.   Carollers may call?   Yet what sweeter melody that the reverberating sound of Redeeming Love.  Around the world the resounding news of ‘God with Us’.   The Darling of the world is come and he is ours, let us share this treasured gift with others making this Christmas special for someone.

The snow and freezing fog of Romania welcomed our arrival, yet in the darkness and dullness of night I could see the sky preparing to welcome another chilly winter morning. 

 Within a few short hours, it was morning and as planned Estera and I set off for a remote village where the fields and meadows were now frozen, children’s bicycles and toys were frozen solid in the rivers of the Roma community and children ran about with very little clothing chasing packs of dogs and the family goat.   ‘Sister Shirley, it is reading minus 4, be careful where you walk’.  ‘Estera, too much information’.   

As I looked around the village, so quiet, so still, far removed from society, trampling the dry crisp leaves, it seemed to be the sound of sadness.  They were strangers, unwelcome, without work and yet they shared from the little they possessed.   Mihalia, a single Mum with three daughters was thrilled to see us and wept with joy as she received extra food provision.  The girls decided to stay at home from school, as no one ever calls, this was a special day for them.  BIANCA is continuing her treatment for renal cancer and will see her Oncologist next week. Inwardly I was encouraged and inspired by the courage of one so young.  My friend Mavis knit miniature Christmas Puddings containing a Tunnocks Marshmallow. They had never seen a Marshmallow before and could not wait to taste – ‘thank you Mavis’ for bringing laughter and joy into this humble home.

There are other homes of child patients and the home of DAMIAN will be different this Christmas. Methinks Christmas will never be the same again for this precious family.   An amazing young boy who wanted so much to be baptised before meeting Jesus.  Damian has undergone brain surgery but was unable to complete his Chemotherapy.  He is now in a coma, blind and unable to move.  The surgeon has confirmed owing to the rate of growth of his brain tumour, Damian will not recover.  His parents and siblings are devastated.  His Mother never leaves his bedside.  On Christmas Morning, remember the terminally ill children who for some this will be their last Christmas.

Bereaved Children have taken over my thoughts and my heart was longing to see two specific children.  It was a MUST to meet with David and Diana, the children of my friend Dorena who lost her battle with cancer.  A faint knock, in fact a little tap on the door of room 7, opening to find these two precious children before me.  I could see the sadness in their beautiful dark eyes as we hugged, wept together, recalling memories of ‘Mum’.  Diana rises with the dawn, before leaving for college she has cows to milk, three meals to prepare then take the bus to Oradea where she is studying to become a nurse.  David is in his first year at High School and has the most beautiful smile.  His tumour is still evident in his arm and growing rapidly.  I will be monitoring carefully the progress of treatment.  I have grown to love these two children as they possess a very special nature – David used to give one of his ‘chicks’ to anyone who helped during his Mother’s illness.  I asked ‘how are the chicks these days?  Smiling as he responded: ‘Bigger’. We laughed together as I said: ‘You keep visiting me at Campus,  think it is safer for me’.  Soon it was time for our ‘Good Bye’s’ and it was an emotional parting; I suppose (if honest) I love these children and wish I could bring them home.  Perhaps a new project? I still hear Dorena whisper ‘please remember my children’.

My friend, Pastor David McFarland emailed a reading from the great Victorian preacher: C.H. Spurgeon. ‘He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His Truth shall be thy shield and buckler’. Mine was the privilege to be covered this morning as instead of my planned visit to my friend Sister Lucretia I was to learn she had received her Home Call to glory.  Yes, waiting for my visit, excited students from Emanuel University were singing carols to her today. Living alone, fear filled her heart of dying alone.  The Lord lovingly sheltered her in the shadow of His wings and she was content to be hidden in the hollow of His hand until he called her Home.  She was covered and protected from all fear.  Two precious elderly patients were eagerly waiting for my visit: Magdalena and Catalina.  Both mis-matched in personality yet possessing the same talent in needlework.  They love to remember their childhood days, telling amazing stories, memory is their only companion, how can I neglect this love I have in my heart for my patients?

 ‘You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you’ (John Bunyan).  One hundred and fifty ampules of Hyoscine (butilscopulamine) are bringing comfort to the families who sit by the bedside of a loved one nearing the end of life.   Their spasms have eased and their final days together can be replaced with quietness and peace until that final breath.  What a loving Heavenly Father whose provision is endless and whose love can never be measured.

‘Sister Shirley, you remember us?’  Angelina, Aurilian and Ella were waiting for me in the Hospice building this morning.  Angelina lost her husband recently and both children suffer from a rare form of cancer.  Many of you remember our ‘Little Ella’; I could not comprehend she celebrated her nineteenth birthday yesterday.  I was overcome with shock at the tiny figure running towards me.  Ella has at least seventeen different forms of diagnoses related to her cancer and is undergoing tests at present for a bone marrow transplant.  She is fearful owing to the weakness of her body she will not survive.  Tears filled her eyes as she told me her sight is now impaired owing to cataract in both eyes.  This family will remain on our feeding programme and we will offer support when needed for treatment.  

I must not dwell on my feelings but I question where are the days of fulfilment?  I see only days of pain and suffering.  This morning another visit cancelled, I found it difficult to eliminate the questions arising in my head, questions without answers.  I had been quietly preparing my heart to meet Alina and her new baby daughter.   Ionuz (John) was in the care of Emanuel Hospice Care for a few short weeks, his mother was also a cancer patient.  Late November Ionuz lost his battle and this morning his mother died.  Although she also had cancer, we feel as a team she died of a broken heart.   Her joy of bygone days had been quenched by the hot coals of the raging fire of parting.  The joy of waiting with expectancy the birth of their firstborn baby to be suddenly replaced with extreme pain, anguish of a broken heart as transitory agony fills this humble home.  Tomorrow will come and I need an inner strength, a courageous spirit to face whatever it may bring.

“Relying on God has to start all over every day, as if nothing has yet been done.”

(C. S. Lewis)

I have no yesterday; time took it away. I may not have tomorrow. But still I have today.

Let’s face today with confidence together – 

Shirley, 10 December, 2019