How’s your heart?

I want, dear Lord, a heart that’s true and clean,
A heart like thine, a heart divine,
A heart as white as snow;
On me, dear Lord, a heart like this bestow.

I want, dear Lord, a love that cares for all,
A love like thine, a love divine,
A love to come or go;
On me, dear Lord, a love like this bestow.

I want, dear Lord, a soul on fire for thee,
A soul baptised with heavenly energy;
A willing mind, a ready hand
To do whate’er I know,
To spread thy light wherever I may go.


‘With not a cloud between…’  Clouds have become a familiar pattern of my life.  Each time the Airbus soars above the differing formations of visible masses of condensed watery vapours floating in the atmosphere, my heart misses a beat. But then a calmness quiets my troubled mind knowing the journey will take me to those whose skies are constantly overcast and gloomy. Clouds eventually lift; but I am faced with ‘Waterless Clouds’ where the blackness of their darkened sky never lifts.   They walk aimlessly in the clouded water of muddy pools in normal day to day village life.  Of course, I would rather have sunlit days, but how can I sing verse two if I am not willing to answer this call?  Flights booked and we are counting the days until our return on 01 October.

Hamilton and I are back in Northern Ireland during the month of November as we have engagements to fulfil, returning to Romania at the end of November until after Christmas.  My hands and feet are becoming impatient, I need to return to those I love…  Pray I will know a tenderness of spirit as I face the many new challenges awaiting.   A new project for bereaved children, a deep tenderness of spirit must be part of who I am, if I am to be a wound-dresser, or comfort a little one crying for ‘Mummy’ with no one to hold a tiny hand or stroke a lock of hair until asleep. Let me with a melting love reach out and touch the forgotten adult orphans in Cighid, with their troubled minds without balance or security. Psalm 147: 3,4 ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.  He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth all by their names.’

New cases, families and children continue to enter our care. Depending on the circumstances and situation they can be linked to Emanuel Hospice; Casa Grace Foundation or Iochebed, all working as a team in lowly service among others.  This month I want to outline new cases, inwardly aware that at times the emails, telephone calls are all too much as I not only feel the pain but realise the need to ‘Be Still’. This morning was one of those mornings as with tears in my eyes I could feel the pain of my dear friend Sister Simona as she laid her darling baby Alexandra to rest.  Alexandra had been deteriorating and her little whimpers of pain grew faint.   Ten months of constant pain cradled in the arms of her young mum, now this little one is in the arms of the one who said: ‘Suffer the little children to come …’ Gazing through my window this morning, I questioned was it only weeks since I held this precious life in my arms?  I watched as the rain touched the leaves of the trees yet knew the real purpose of their journey was to reach the very depth of the earth and water the roots.  Oh that I might touch the very roots of lives that are dying without knowing the depth of the reservoirs of blessing!

How can I be uncaring when a sweet elderly couple are living in unacceptable unsanitary conditions, Sister Ecaterina is one of our terminally patients and her husband of forty-four years suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  They are unable to care for one another and are often without food or medication.   The reality is that their family are uncaring and most of the time when one of our team call this precious couple are ‘hungry’. Do they complain?  A smile of joy fills their wrinkled faces each time the team arrive offering love, care and medication.  Only one of many cases.

Andrea (49) entered our care recently, her cancer then in advanced stages; now her condition has spread and has metastasised in her brain.  These are her final days.  She is a religious lady but needs the Lord in salvation. Henry Dyer penned: ‘God is great in great things, but very great in little things. Yes, I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed as the suffering continues.  But then I remember the quiet rains of dew falling readily from the support of friends and those who care. Then I know as George Muller penned: ‘ He is the God of my steps but he is also the God of my stops.’  I must stop and trust knowing that as in Isaiah 25: 4. ‘You have been a refuge for the poor; a refuge for the needy in their distress; a shelter from the storm…’  Together let us breathe a prayer ‘Lord let your steps be mine’.

Stefan (11) diagnosed with Spastic Tetra Paresis weighing only 10 kilos (1.5 stone) suffering every day due to his condition.  His mother left the family when Stefan became sick.  There are two boys and the younger brother has just been diagnosed with the same disease.  The boys are cared for by their elderly Grandmother, a wonderful lady; but at times the role of a carer for two sick boys is overwhelming.

Natanael (12) has been diagnosed with Carcinoma.  Nathanael has had sensitive surgery and will now commence radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Casa Grace Foundation and Iochebed differ in ministering to the needs from Emanuel Hospice and yet all as human instruments have their own individual roles to play.  My friends Monika and Gabi spend their lives mending broken people, removing pain, listening to heart-breaking situations and heart rendering circumstances.  Sister Vali (40) has nine children and although she is always smiling her heart is crying inside.  Vali came to know the Lord many years ago and has taken the sole responsibility for caring for her home and raising her children in the ways of the Lord.   Her husband is addicted to gambling and alcohol; because of these addictions she at times is left without home, possessions.  She is now facing serious health issues and her worry remains, ‘who will care for my children?’.  She has no heating and winters in Suceava are fierce.  We are praying the Lord will send the finance to enable the team to purchase a stove.

Summer camp in the beautiful mountains of Romania is a time of planting, sowing seeds that will remain, spring up and bloom. It is perhaps the only time a child can be a child and know the art of play or meet a special friend.  Why the tears on returning home?  For many homelife is difficult, filled with days of uncertainty.  I think of recently added families:  Casa Grace offer a sure foundation by example, No one is turned away.   Two little girls of five and three whose mother left them, now raised by their grandparents who have seven children of their own and where the grandfather is in the advanced stages of cancer.  Other families where three brothers of fourteen, eleven and one all with mental retardation and are very violent.  A single parent living in a social apartment, struggling to raise four children of fourteen, eleven, seven and one year old. Income £18 per month per person with only one room which is in extremely poor condition. Finally, another single parent family where the father (44) is struggling to raise his five children of fifteen, thirteen, eight, seven and six.  The father works as a security guard and the total income for the family of six is £80 per month.  These are the facts; the reality of families living in the depths of poverty, struggling on as little as £20 each week to pay rent, buy food, clothing.  They feel they don’t matter. As I look into the eyes of the children I see a quiet sadness that is part of who they are, young lives torn apart and destroyed by the aftermath of sin.

I have scheduled visits to these families in October, each day different from the previous, small places; a tiny room; a makeshift shelter, a hut but all a home to someone.  The orphan, abandoned child are at home in the Orphanage Centre and so with your help and support I continue to build a bridge of hope. The adult orphans in the forest area of Cighid need to know they are not forgotten and that they do matter to someone.  Depending on the finance raised for this project, Monika and I will purchase bedding, towels, clothing, boots, personal hygiene products in Romania.  Plans are afoot to hold a Christmas Carol Service with the assistance of  the music students from Emanuel University.  These fifty people need to know the meaning of ‘Redeeming Love’ for it is indeed a love without limit.

One child may touch your heart – I know many pray for one or more of my precious jewels by name.  My friends Barbara and Heather who have a love for Dora; ladies from Londonderry providing a new Christmas outfit for all of the abandoned babies; BW groups supporting the specific projects for Cighid Adult Orphans and Pro-Life; Alison, whose normal greeting is not ‘Good Morning’ but ‘Shirley, what’s next?’;  Mavis,  ‘What do you need?’; Pauline, ‘whatever the project I am behind you all the way’.

The Lord did not call me to work alone in this field, I have workers who encourage, water the fields, feed the hungry through their faithful monthly donations in gifting or direct debit.  It would be impossible to allocate £2,000 monthly without this vital support.  Yesterday, I received a photograph from Dora, smiles, smiles and more smiles from children enjoying their ‘afternoon treat’ after their therapy session, made possible through the kindness of a token of love from our team at home. Biscuits, juice?  Wow!  God has placed us all in the best place where we can work for Him.

Not so in haste, my heart! Have faith in God and wait;
Although He linger long. He never comes too late.
Until He cometh, rest. Nor grudge the hours that roll.
The feet that wait for God are soonest at the goal.
Are soonest at the goal that is not gained by speed.
Then hold thee still, my heart, For I shall wait his lead. (Bayard Taylor)

 ‘Thank you’ for loving  enough to care,

Shirley, 30 August, 2019

Let me hear Thy voice

‘Joy and deep poverty!’ Truly strange blending
Fulness and emptiness! Contrasting themes
Spiritual richness and temporal leanness!
None but the Spirit could wed such extremes.
 ‘Joy and deep poverty!’ Servant of Jesus
Doth it perplex that thy portion is this?
Doth it offend that reward for thy faithfulness
Seemeth to lie much in things thou must miss?
 ‘Joy and deep poverty!’ Pause thee, and ponder!
Joy for thy spirit – the world cannot give;
If therewith leanness, extreme limitation
Mayhap ‘tis by e’en such need thou shalt LIVE!
(J. Danson Smith)

I paused after reading verse two of the above poem.  The tenderness of my heart; the parting; the loss, experiences, reminding me that the threads of sorrow are also important threads used in the tapestry of life.  I quietly ask: ‘Lord, let me hear thy voice’.  The remains of the previous day still caused pain. I needed to hear the sweetness of his voice.  This mission trip has been as no other. I have been to the very pit of a coalmine coming face to face with the true cost of pain.  Nothing this world can offer will ever compensate for the loss of my precious Denisa to Lilliana or my little angel Dada to Pertruda. The hearts of these mothers are broken; others running away, reality as their companion. The village homes; the unwanted child; the crowded market place filled with empty faces of homeless vagabonds; a young gypsy mother rummaging through overflowing bins of garbage with a scantily dressed baby wrapped in a shawl crying with hunger.  Has my vision been impaired seeing only what I want to see? I feel I have just returned from a desert without road or track where the soil beneath my feet was barren and dry.  And yet I long to return to this wilderness of suffering, to drop seeds on purpose that will take root and grow. Home three days and yet longing for those I love in the land I love. Romania is my home, my people, even the forgotten and unloved in Cighid.  They may not be able to communicate but they have touched the very core of my heart.  Yes, I am disturbed within and yet as I walked and prayed I felt the dew of stillness assure me that there are those who will stand with me in this project to provide bedding and clothing for these fifty adult orphans. Without asking, the Lord provides.  A few hours ago a gentleman spoke with me; instead of birthday gifts on his special birthday he requested donations for Tell Romania.  He smiled in agreement as I requested his gift will commence the £2,500 required for the Cighid Project.  We leave on 01 October dv, Hamilton to return to teaching in Emanuel and preaching, and I plan to take the resources with me to Cighid the following week. The choice rests within our hearts to bless ‘Even One’?

Our return flight was from Cluj Napoca (3 to 4 hour drive from Oradea) granting the opportunity to meet Gabi from Iochebed, spending also a day with my friend Violeta who graciously drove me to two new works; namely ‘THE FARM’ and ‘CASA FILIP’.

It was a joy to renew fellowship with Gabi, to hear of her planned events throughout the summer months, to read her heart as she lovingly spoke of the poverty aspect in the homes of young gypsy mothers with large families where owing to having only one pair of shoes, only one child can attend school each day. The joy of reassurance filled my heart as we donated from the unfailing supply of our gracious Lord the sum of £3,000.  ‘He hath filled the hungry with good things’ (Luke 1:53).

‘THE FARM’ has to be seen to be believed!  Five acres of land where volunteers (including orphans from local orphanages) are busy levelling the land, brushing up cement, cutting grass, hedge trimming, while a local builder is erecting an amazing place for orphans to come on a regular basis where they are offered the opportunity to learn life skills, discover talents and abilities.  At the age of eighteen the transition out of the institutions is frightening for one who has never known the outside world especially when you are without identity papers!   The Farm will offer a home base, an address to allow each individual orphan to receive their own personal ID.  Emil is the newest employee as a farm maintenance assistant and he is the first to call this place “home” officially.  A team led by David Morton (a Director of Tell Romania) has just returned from a work trip in May where he was joined by builders, joiners, plumbers, electricians … interested?  David’s next work trip is in September! Our friend Allan Hopper has taken on the role to oversee as Project Manager.

‘CASA FILIP’ I looked at my friend Violeta as she kindly carried two cool drinks to a shaded part of the gardens surrounding Casa Filip. Even in the car as we made the long journey to The Farm the thermometer was reading 36 degrees and it was hot!  A keen gardener (of a past day) I was admiring her attention to detail, her love depicted in the choice of flowers.   My thoughts turned to the loss in her own personal life of a beloved husband whose life was totally dedicated to the Lord and the gain now offered to countless lives.  It felt good to chat as friend to friend; we smiled together and yes cried together as we remembered Filip who was loved by so many and a precious student to Dr. Moore in Irish Baptist College.

The accommodation is outstanding and is a miracle of love and grace, offering a place to stay to patients who travel from far away villages to Cluj for cancer treatment.  The accommodation is extended to relatives or friends who accompany those receiving treatment.  The demand is high with bookings into 2020.

So important to live only for God and to fulfil his purpose for all of our days.  As Job said, ‘I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause’.

Shirley, 07 July, 2019