The prick of a thorn

thorns-3521375_1920The Captain of the Wizz Air Airbus announced ‘prepare for landing’.  My heart missed a beat!  December 2017, my thoughts were somewhat different, wondering would I ever return?  The past experience may have halted my journey, introducing me to a road never walked before; the road of waiting and limitation.  I (impatiently) ‘waited by the brook’, reminding myself that the Lord knows my heart and in fact knows everything about me.

I was not prepared for the next step when Hamilton who had journeyed to Romania alone joined me on this road. I remember driving home from the Renal Unit and asking ‘Lord why me, why now?’  There is no balance or security as to what life may bring our way, God’s timing is a new day of opportunity and if we allow ourselves to ‘Be Still’ we will experience an intimate relationship with the one who is continually holding us with his right hand. Looking back, I learned that when we allow the Lord to carry us, especially through days of anxiety, his plan will succeed and we can rejoice in the Lord through it all.  The road has been long, differing bends, awkward turns, causing an apprehension of what might be.   It is difficult to sleep when thoughts overtake your mind, I watched the shadow of night disappear followed with the sun coming over the horizon. Another new day and yet I know I cannot depend on feelings that may change from day to day, I must concentrate on a road leading to definite challenges resulting in prayerful and thoughtful consideration with one goal: ‘What Can I Give?’.   I must listen for his voice.

Fourteen hours of travel was long and tiring – we climbed those amazing stairs to our student room longing for a cup of tea.  My dear friend Monika whose heart never ceases to amaze me had left supplies to ensure our comfort.  Suddenly a gentle knock at our door, the amazing heart followed by her amazing smile of welcome. ‘Please forgive me, I could not wait any longer to see you and give you a hug’.

The following morning, in fact just a few hours later I made my way down the stairs, staff, students calling ‘Sister Moore, is that really you? You are back at last’. Yes, I thought, I am finally home.   As I drove to the Orphanage Centre my mind kept repeating the words written by Walter J Mathams ‘Jesus Friend of Little Children, be a friend to me’.  Dora was waiting for me.  Elena (Director of the Centre) ran out to meet me, the questioning glances of parents were replaced with outstretched hands of welcome.  Roland who suffers from Down Syndrome kissed my hand which melted my heart.  ‘I remember you’. My feeling of apprehension was replaced with an inner confidence.  Claudia welcomed me to the Abandoned Baby wing and as I held baby Eric, Elijah and Isaac in my arms, listening to their cries, my heart broke as I wiped their tears.  Abandoned, severely disabled, left alone without any hope of a future.  Questions flooded my mind, their life span from infancy to?  I had no words, I found myself silently repeating the last verse: ‘Never leave me, nor forsake me; Ever be my friend; For I need Thee, from life’s dawning to its end’.

I am so thankful I have been given time to continue to kindle the fire in those who are dying without the Lord.  If I had the choice, I would choose to keep burning without wasting one single day. ‘Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself’.  These words pierced my heart as I opened a broken gate held together by string into a yard filled with ‘earthly goods’ from the families who have been evicted in April.  One elderly lady sat motionless, her bird cage hanging from a tree, one pot boiling on a makeshift campfire (in this extreme heat).  We can choose those we love but neighbourly love in its fitting place must reside within our hearts.  Today was beyond my comfort zone, I felt the need to calm my thoughts, to allow myself to be impelled with the best motive. I have personally proved the Lord to be my friend, I ask myself: ‘Am I willing to be a friend to these people?’ Hands were clasped in friendship as I met Sister Druta, the Lord saw her in her need and his compassions never fail.  A state apartment has been found in the centre of Oradea, close to the train station.  It is in a state of disrepair and has one disadvantage in sharing a communal bathroom with other residents.  I have spoken with Monika this morning; plans are in place to commence repairs immediately. The Lord’s provision through his people was £1,000 reminding me that the Lord blessed quietly and unnoticed, may I have a similar grace in bringing light into this darkness.  Love and Light go hand in hand.

Stefania was waiting for me in her Special Chair, again a provision from the Lord.  This is the season of joy in Romania, the fields ripening with fruit reminding us that the Lord sends his blessings in so many different forms.  Stefania is lovingly cared by her parents and grandmother who serve quietly with such patience.  This beautiful young girl is locked within her body and apart from her eyes is unable to move.  She is very intelligent and received a diploma in the Special Needs School.  The sacrifice of this family is evident yet there is no complaint, only courage to continue.  Let me learn from these people.

Visiting Romanian homes especially those living on the edge of a village in the Roma Community I am immediately struck by the colour displayed in the carpets on walls, beds, many woven by the elderly hands I now hold, the evidence of toil clearly visible. The ladies love to tell you of the background surrounding the beautiful designs possibly handed down from generation to generation.  It is emotional sharing with these terminally ill patients, Sister Elizabeth, once her threads of life were bright and radiant now the colours have changed weaving only dark shades.

Brother Emeric did not want to talk of his terminal illness rather to share his testimony outlining fifty years of preaching the gospel during Communist times. With tears streaming down his face he told me of his days in the Communist Army when his bible was discovered he was told to burn it immediately. He refused time and time again and even under severe threat he never wavered in his faith in God.  He was to prove the faithfulness of God in his miraculous escape.   I looked at his precious wife, herself ill and nearly blind, I thought really, we are all weavers in one way or another but until the pattern is completed, we must keep on working with the threads of life. He longs to see the sunshine but is unable to walk and because of his wife’s blindness she is unable to assist her beloved husband.  Emeric needs an electric wheelchair. Young Ionut (21) suffering from muscular dystrophy, both legs spreading 100cm.  Just now I am sourcing a special wheelchair or extensions to allow easy access to hospital.  The Lord will provide.

‘Good Morning, you must love this centre, you are back’ was the greeting of Elena, director of the Orphanage. What can I say, it is true?  And who should run to meet me but Aaron.  Aaron is a very special young boy who suffers from Down Syndrome who loves to draw special pictures of his Grandmother.  Then I made my way to the Abandoned Baby Wing again and this morning it was the turn of Bobby and Isabella to play with me in the Therapy Room.

My Girls still remain in my heart, there is still that special bond remaining after all the change the past four years has brought. I longed to see them once again.   Alice (who painted the murals on the walls of Adam’s Room) had a surprise for me: ‘I want you to meet Emanuel he is soon to be my husband’. Emma ‘I must see you, I will soon be gone’. Yes, Emma will take up a new post as a Physiotherapist thirty kilometres from Oradea. Sylvia calling with her husband Alex who was leaving for a one week Mission Trip in Moldova.  Oana, driving from Venice to introduce me to her baby daughter Elizabeth.  It seems only yesterday our ‘Beauty of Holiness’ group shared together – some married and proud mothers.  Life, love, hope, dreams fulfilled.  Gifts from the master weaver of life.

The road leading to the gaming area of Cighid was filled with pot holes, making our journey slower than usual.  Sunflowers in their hundreds filled the fields. ‘Sister Shirley, the sunflower oil’ Mihai informed me.  Just then as a flash of lightning, a young deer skipped from one side of the road to another.  Robin Mark wrote ‘As the deer pants for the water …’ As we continued our journey down the dusty road the two large locked gates hovered in the distance, the words ‘You alone are my strength, my shield’ filled my heart and I needed to feel the closeness of his presence for what awaited me. The greeting from the fifty adult orphans was overwhelming.  Although unable to communicate or possess normal skills they ran screaming toward the car.  Many recognised me and came touching, hugging, holding on tightly, following your every step; ‘I love you’ one lady aged fifty one said. I stopped, looked around and wept. Thirty-three females and seventeen males, precious souls who have never known a sense of serenity.  No blue sky only clouds of darkness and the depth of the tempest has left its mark, their foundations crumbled many years ago.

Estera and I entered a Roma village many miles from Oradea, a beautiful little girl (dressed in pink) her dark curly hair blowing in the soft wind, was walking the long and dusty road with her Daddy.   ‘Sister Shirley, this is the family we will visit’.  We seemed to drive for miles, passing one horse in a very large field; it certainly was obscure and far removed from society.  Simona greeted me but I could see as she tried to smile she had been crying.  In one corner of the small gypsy home a new born baby lay: Abraham Isaac and there in the other corner lay Baby Alexandra, her tiny body whimpering sounds of pain.  As I nursed this little darling you could see the least movement caused her pain. How can I define the pleasure of their new born son and the pain of their darling Alexandra? The sunshine is fading and is replaced by shadows as is the light with darkness.  Little Deborah (2) was busy emptying the food parcels we had purchased from Penny Market on route, she laughed with excitement as she found the items we had brought especially for her.  ‘Mine’ she laughingly said, rushing over to a special place of hiding.  It brought one moment of joy to this humble home. ‘Please tell me, what do you need; how can I help’? Simona knows that the Lord will perform whatever he has appointed for her and that he will be with her in the trial.  We will support this precious young family who continue to serve the Lord in the Pentecostal Church during these days of trial.

Kevin is back in hospital in Timisoara.  An MRI scan is required to ensure his cancer remains in remission.  I did have a special letter to deliver from his adopted Grandparents in Falkirk, Scotland. It is on its way.  I look forward to seeing him in the Autumn.

‘I never thought you would return’ cried my friend Elizabeth as I entered her small room.  Her husband John greeted me singing a psalm unto the Lord.  We shared precious moments together catching up on all the news from her family and grandchildren.  Elizabeth’s cancer is in remission and we thank the Lord for his mercies.  I placed a handbag filled with personal hygiene products on her table.  She wept as she told me she needed a bag but had no money to buy one.  Our Heavenly Father knows and cares.
As I reflect on the past two weeks this has been a Valley of Silence for me – I am finding the pain overwhelming – pain that pierces deep as the thorn that pricks.  The pain I feel when visiting the terminally ill, the pain I see in the faces of the orphans, the pain as I listen to the cries of the abandoned babies and the pain in Cighid.  I cannot speak of my Valley of Silence just now; it is a personal journey as I feel the heartbeat of those harrowed by care.  The dark mountain of sadness that towers over so many.  ‘Why?’ just now I cannot see but it is enough for me to trust his love.

One thing I do see and see clearly, we must continue to support in our Feeding Programme, in our care.  Earlier in this blog I wrote Brother Emrico needed an electric wheelchair.  Within one day I have received a text from David Morton telling me one is on its way.

Let us keep spreading our wings proving the Lord is faithful.

Shirley, 21 June, 2019.

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