As I walked into Dumbrava Rosa, a wind chilling factor came over me as I passed two newly built, freshly painted crosses, bearing the names of two (relatively young) residents. Two hundred and thirty homeless people reside there. At least two deaths occur each week. Mentally, I was unprepared, I took a deep breath, again I was surrounded by tragedy, disaster and suffering. Personal emotions prompt different responses; mine was a deep awareness of the destruction sin causes in the lives of those rejected by society. Another humbling experience into the depths of deep despair, with fear and trembling and an overwhelming sadness in my heart I continued my journey, meeting the residents who would remain there until their time on earth was finished. Many of the male residents were in wheelchairs or confined to bed, but as I entered the room and smiled into their dark eyes. Suddenly that cautious, sceptical distrust, changed to a faint smile as their hands were stretched in welcome to this new visitor from the West.
I was greeted by Brother Viorel Pasca, who eleven years earlier, through watching a documentary on the ‘Homeless People of Romania’, responded to the Call of God in his heart and from small beginnings has formed this amazing place of refuge. He is a man who lives by faith, who has surrendered himself in love to provide a shelter from the chilling winds of life. I learned of the differing background(s) and was filled with an overwhelming gratitude that any situation can result in a transformed life. For many, the battlefield of life had warranted no medals, only scars were pinned on their lapel. 90% are sent to Dumbrava Rosa by Hospitals with a further 10% from the State City Hall or Police (one lady, covered in snow had been admitted the previous night). Out of every four, one will leave – the other three remain. These people have no identity, no papers, they have lost everything and everyone. They are content with their lot in life and exist from day to day, living the life of a vagrant (sometimes) in the luxury of a converted Animal Shelter. Dumbrava Rosa consists of eleven different houses sheltering those with mental disability, terminally ill, alcoholics, orphans, homeless, amputees, feet gone as a result of frost bite. In reality, they are avoided, ignored, rejected and shunned. Medical expenses are heavy. (£2,000 each month) .
After visiting many of the houses, it was time to leave. My thoughts as I drove the many miles back to Oradea? With the help of the Family of God we can continue the Feeding Programme in 2018 for Emanuel Hospice and Casa Grace – It is a MUST! I remembered the words of Marinela as she shared two days previously: ‘Sister Shirley, if you did not do this Feeding Programme, we would not be able to feed the dying’. Let us thank the Lord for the privilege in ‘Serving Others’ as a family who cares.
The work of Casa Grace continues, as Monika and I visited ‘Our Dora’ who is loved by many of the family of Tell Romania. ‘Shirley, these sweeties are very nice, I like them very much. Please tell my special Auntie in Ireland, she can buy me some more of these sweeties for Christmas. Perhaps I can go and visit her’. A thirty one year old with the mind of a child. Boots Diabetic ‘Strawberries and Cream’ were a first for Dora. Me thinks it will not be the last!
My friend Merle sent me the following bible quotation: James 2: 14-17 ‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. These words have penetrated my ‘troubled’ heart as I remember the forty nine Adult Orphans in Cighid, 230 Homeless in Dumbrava Rosa, their world is shattered, crumbling around them, they indeed are a forgotten people. My thoughts, my sympathy are not enough! Where do I go when my heart is troubled? As the Psalmist David, I must meditate, focus, that although His footprints may not be seen, He is always walking with me. I know that when I ‘cry out’ I have a God who hears and answers in His time and plan. At the outset of this Mission Trip, I sensed a ‘Wind of Change’ – these forgotten people are winds that will blow and pass, never to return.
Seven weeks until Christmas, a significant day for many in different ways. Christmas is about God giving the most precious gift of all, ‘You shall call His name Jesus ……’ the Child of Bethlehem who broke into humanity bringing life, hope and fulfilment to ALL mankind. This year, let us make Christmas a significant one for Cighid and Dumbrava Rosa, let us show them through our ‘Gift of Love’, A warm hat & gloves, socks, scarf, perhaps even a selection Box, that ‘Someone Cares’.
I want, dear Lord, a love that feels for all
A deep strong love that answers every call.
A love like thine, a love divine, a love for high and low.
On me, dear Lord, a love like this bestow.
May my heart always be occupied by others.