But Thou art making me, I thank Thee, sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou knows’t well.
And I will help Thee; gently in Thy fire
I will lie burning, on Thy potter’s wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel.
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.
(George MacDonald – Diary of an Old Soul)

Mental anguish creates an inner sense of hopelessness.  Situations cause us to wonder ‘Why is this happening?’ or ‘Why is God permitting this to happen?’.  The psalmist David must have experienced a sense of despair when he penned: ‘I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living’ (Psalm 27: 13). 

Dark clouds continue to overshadow tiny village homes.  Lives interrupted by unexpected change where trials, not of their own choosing invaded their peace, the calmness of their sheltered world is shattered.  During my years of getting to know and indeed love my patients, children and families I have had but one goal – to build bridges.  Bridges that would replace walls of doubt and suspicion.  Looking back, many cracks and chips have been repaired in countless lives.

Ferenc suffers from gastric cancer. This patient and his wife are in deep sorrow as they mourn the loss of their beloved son.  A young man of thirty-eight who died due to a cerebrovascular attack.  A mother who has lost her son is now facing the possibility of losing her beloved husband.  Ferenc is in great distress; he cannot come to terms his wife will be left totally alone in this world.  He has expressed that the Lord is his comfort.  May this become a reality.

Iuliana has advanced breast cancer.  She has two daughters; the youngest girl is only eleven years of age.  Her husband is overwhelmed with grief as he tries to take care of his dying wife and children. The girls are exceptionally close to their mother; watching her suffer, growing weaker each day is causing them deep emotion and distress.  ‘Why does my Mummy have to die?’.

Maria is another patient with breast cancer and multiple metastasis. She has an exulcerated tumour in her breast area causing extreme pain owing to the bone metastasis. She is very agitated and has trouble sleeping because of extreme pain. She is also very anxious regarding her future and the strong possibility of death. Her family are exhausted and don’t know how to help her find peace. 

My Wee Ella.   I have known and loved this precious family since 2015. The news from Estera was news I did not want to hear.  Ella’s condition deteriorated, her frail, weak body could not fight infection and sadly she contacted Covid-19. Angelina, her mother, protected Ella throughout the pandemic, arranging treatment to be administered at home.  However, it became vital that due to her rare form of cancer, admission to hospital was necessary. Her illness continued to exacerbate and in her weakness, she contracted Covid for a second time.  Her body could not fight any longer; she passed away silently and alone.  Her mother and brother are devastated. Aurelian expressed his thanks for all the help they received from our dedicated team in Emanuel Hospice and for the provision of food and hygiene items. It was so emotional listening to him. Angelina cannot utter Ella’s name; her loss is unimaginable.  Ella was alert and intelligent, resolving all difficult issues surrounding the family. She will be missed. I still see her laughing as Estera and I climbed the eighteen flights of stairs to reach their flat.  Aurelian is a sensitive boy, suffering from the same form of this rare disease.  Ella had started to paint a portrait of Aurelian before she died; the painting depicted Aurelian waiting for her to return home.  Ella will never return home again.  The painting is unfinished.  I pray the hands of grace will embrace this home and that from their brokenness they will find the beauty of wholeness in the Lord.

Marian (55) diagnosed with advanced cancer is cared for by his loving wife. They have four sons all under the age of seventeen, lovely boys with a caring and pleasing personality who are so attached to their father. Recently, Marian’s brother died unexpectedly after suffering a major stroke.   The family are devastated as Marian had requested him to become a paternal figure in the life of his boys.  He is gone before him. They are a Christian family and love the Lord, holding on to the hope that we have in Christ.  May the breath of our Lord breathe peace over this home during these difficult times.  They receive from our Feeding Programme.

Kevin was taken to Cluj by his mother.  During the consultation the oncologist confirmed the required surgery must take place in France. (also the opinion of Kevin’s consultant in Oradea).  It is a lengthy, intricate and complicated surgery; it would not be possible for this specialist surgery to be performed in Romania. Estera applied to Assurance House regarding the possibility of covering the cost incurred.   As I write, confirmation has been received, all costs will be covered. Kevin’s mother is deeply affected and concerned regarding the whole procedure.  We assure her that Kevin is in God’s hands and there are no safer hands.  Gabi has walked a dark path since the Home Call of her beloved husband Robi. Pray for all our patients that in the dark passage of trial, their fears will be quelled and they will find His peace.

Last month I informed you of the need for specialist equipment for our younger cancer patients.  I quote:  The Emanuel Hospice team need my help in sourcing an ‘Ear Pulse Oximeter’. Pulse Oximeters are used regularly on the fingers of our little ones to measure their oxygen levels. However, for the very young children (as for our precious Vicky) these do not always work; we would therefore require an Ear Pulse Oximeter. Pray for Brother Allan Hopper who is trying to source this equipment. This morning, 3 Nellcor Oximax infant oxygen sensor meters for infants 3-20kg; 1 new Blood Pressure Machine; 1 Nebuliser arrived with Emanuel Hospice Team.  The Paediatric doctor is overwhelmed by this much need provision and extends her appreciation to Brother Allan Hopper.  

The days I receive news of Ella, Vicki, Dani; the days I think of the empty village homes where family laughter once resounded; where a child’s room is now vacant; a favourite toy lying unused in a corner; the days when I review the case studies of my patients; these are the days I pray: ‘Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul’ (Psalm 143:8).

Romans 12: 2 ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’.  As I read this verse I think of Gabi, Loredana and Mahalia who minister into the lives of those coming from a different way of life, in fact, a different culture.  Their focus remains clear – The Lord is the Lord of ALL’ seasons of life. 

Flori (27) is mother to six young children.  Flori is in the early stages of her seventh pregnancy and has had to attend the Emergency Department of her local hospital owing to serious complications. An Obstetrician advised her to take extra care owing to evidence of the high risk that she could lose the baby.  We have paid for the consultation and medication and will continue to assist with required echographs, tests and medication during her pregnancy Please pray for Flori, they are an extremely poor family and even though this will be her seventh child she is frightened she will loss her precious baby. 

 Claudia has two little girls of seven and six years of age.  During May we informed you this family were homeless and unable to find a place to stay. Our small team of three were relentless in trying to secure a place to rent for Claudia, a place for two little girls to call ‘Home’.  Finally, a place has been found and we have agreed rental for the next consecutive months. We will also supply much needed food and hygiene supplies.   The little girl of seven has a health issue which will involve a consultation with a specialist in a larger city.  Gabi, has asked me to thank you on their behalf. The investigation has only been made possible by donations received for our ‘Iochebed’ babies.  Your gift of love has provided for a place to call ‘Home’ and satisfy hungry little tummies who formally searched through garbage bins for crumbs.

Alexandra is pregnant with her sixth child. She was so afraid and filled with an overwhelming fear when the pregnancy was confirmed.  Her first reaction was to consider aborting the baby.   Her fear stems from the fact that there are serious issues with two of her children.   Her debts continue to mount owing to the medical expenses. Alexandra’s outlook is clouded with fear, pray that the Lord will quieten her heart and that she will choose life for her unborn baby. 

 Simina (28) has had seven pregnancies.  She has five children as she had two miscarriages.  She faces an eighth pregnancy.  She is overwhelmed and does not want another baby, her husband is frequently away from the family home with his friends, spending all their money with no resources provided for his little ones.    When he returns home there are arguments due to lack of commitment and jealously.   May God touch her heart to treasure this gift of life.

Sorina (18) gave birth to a baby boy (Narcis) four months ago.  Sorina is young and inexperienced for her age.   The baby became ill and was admitted to hospital. After many tests, it was confirmed the baby was suffering from a liver condition.  Following two months of treatment there was no evidence of improvement. Sorina returned to the Paediatric hospital in Lasi, where her baby was seen by a qualified paediatrician.  Tests were carried out and a course of treatment put in place. Narcis has reacted well to the treatment.  Sorina will be required to bring the baby back to Lasi in four weeks to receive confirmation of the root cause of the liver disease.  The trauma of becoming a mother at such a young age and coping alone. Help her know she is not alone.

I seem to be ending my own private devotional time by praying five simple words: ‘Lord, teach me to love’.  It is not my wish to become repetitive but it won’t go away.  Early this morning, I found myself reading from the book of Mark.  A loving Heavenly Father who was motivated by compassion.  Compassion means ‘I love you’.  As I thought of this I thought of Monika and her dedicated team in Casa Grace (the House of Grace).  We have an obligation of the choices we make to those we serve in love.  ‘Lord, teach us to love’.

An unexpected telephone call to Monika afforded my colleagues in Casa Grace another opportunity to ‘love’.  The evidence of poverty and lack of ‘lunch’ observed by the head teacher of a local school, highlighted a serious area of concern. The opening words: ‘Can you help a little girl?  Her family are in the darkness of extreme poverty. The case study revealed not only Dickensian poverty but total spiritual darkness. The family of seven live in very poor conditions.  Their accommodation consists of rented rooms within an old and derelict house.  The rooms are dark, dismal, lacking light and without air.   Many neighbours share the same building.  Huddled together sits a mother (43) with the added responsibility of caring for her brother (38) who suffers from mental and physical disability.  There are two daughters aged twenty-five and twelve.  The girl of twelve is working hard at school trying to attain an education.  Sadly, the girl of twenty-five suffers from a mental disability; she has two sons aged six and five. Their father died from cancer prior to the birth of his second son. Owing to the level of her mental and physical capabilities she is unable to maintain a permanent position of employment.  At present she is picking fruit in the summer fruit farms.  As we reviewed the case study, we felt the brother’s condition warranted a disability allowance.  Duly completed forms have been submitted.  We have added this family to our Feeding Programme.

Mariana.  This morning, Monika and I spoke at length regarding Mariana’s situation.  All necessary scans were supposedly completed with surgery scheduled for tomorrow.  However, things have been placed on hold for now.  The consultant has requested further scans owing to the reconstruction of her bowel.  Mariana’s body has been rejecting the stoma placed during the last colostomy procedure.  There are complications.   Mariana will be hospitalised for a period of three weeks.  During this time, Monika has arranged for an Aunt of Mariana’s to care for the seven children.   The oldest sibling of Mariana’s seven children received high grades in her examination results.  She plans to study chemistry and biology with the view of becoming a specialist nurse or doctor.  The mountains and clouds are slowly being removed, the mushroom field and shabby home are a distant memory.  Pray that the Lord will open Mariana’s eyes, that her questions will dissipate to create a satisfaction of mind that all her struggles, worries, inadequacies, rejections, disappointments can be resolved in loving the One who first loved her.  

FOOTNOTE: Mariana is not alone in this. The Lord knew what was required and the £500 required for surgery has been provided by a sister who has been supporting Mariana throughout all of her treatments.   The Lord gives what is best and when needed.

This morning I found myself reading about various women in the bible and the qualities one should possess.  As I read: ‘She extends her hand to the poor; She reaches out her hands to the needy; She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is of fine linen and purple …’  My thoughts turned to the Vocational Training Room where five years ago we refurbished the entire department with approximately ten Brother commercial and household sewing machines and a heavy-duty overlocking machine.  Dana and Berta are totally dedicated to this three-year module commencing from beginner to distinction. Graduation took place this week. 

Dana writes:  With God’s help I have completed another series of tailoring courses. I give thanks to God for using me in His work, I know I am only a small tool in His Hand but I give Him the glory. 

Elisa comes from one of our families receiving help from our Feeding Programme.  Elisa felt guided to attend the training class where she discovered her talents, she finished the course well.  Her father is unable to work due to an ongoing health condition, Elisa decided to open a tailoring workshop within their house, this will assist in bringing a much-needed income in to the family home.  She is a very special girl, younger and highly motivated by her highly talented skills in tailoring.  There is a waiting list for her services. 

2022 GraduationTabita Patcas was thrilled to be awarded the honour of being ‘top student’, being awarded a new Sewing Machine in recognition of her achievement.  Tabita is one of thirteen children consisting of seven boys and six girls. Their father contracted a virus resulting in him becoming brain dead.  He died leaving his beloved wife and thirteen children. 

FOOTNOTEI remember visiting this family shortly after the death of their father and I was overwhelmed by the love and peace in this humble home.  As I entered, I was greeted by the mother who was surrounded by her girls as they sat around the table peeling potatoes gathered from the fields – a very large caldron of potatoes was the main meal for fourteen.  The family love the Lord and throughout all the storms have never questioned His love for them.  Five of the girls have now taken our tailoring course.  Their plan is to design and make dresses for their church family.

Our outward appearance is important, we take pride in ‘how we look’.  This morning as I was choosing a ‘change of clothes’ Col 3: 14 entered my heart. ‘Put on love ….’  Need I say more?

Shirley, July 26, 202242B BERNICE ROAD, CO. ANTRIM. BT36