Another month, another blog. Cries of sorrow and lives crushed by affliction, heartache and hardship cause me to walk another mile. My journey seems far from over!  One word dominates my thinking: Why?’    Irene Webster-Smith, missionary to Japan, took as her life verse, three simple words: ‘Everything by prayer’ (Phil 4: 6).  The Lord’s will governs all, events seen and unseen; the hush of silent Ukrainian refugees facing the unknown; the hungry, the unwanted and abandoned child; the widow; the dying. Regarded perhaps by many as ‘second class’ people, these are my neighbours; their scars have left a lasting impression on my heart and whatever I do to the least of these, I must do it as ‘unto Him.’. 

Hearts are broken, in fact, changed forever. The unending blows of the hammer are heavy as they pound unyielding strikes of suffering.  The wounds are raw and deep, physical wounds, wounds of a broken heart, wounds of fear, wounds of war that will never fade, even with time.  The silence of darkness is a reality as the forsaken and those facing impossible situations question: ‘Where do I start?’; ‘What shall I do?’; ‘Does anyone care?’; ‘All that ever was, will it ever be again?’.  I am reminded of the words found in Psalm 46: 10 ‘Be still and know that I am God’.  Yes, even in our restlessness, we must wait for the Lord, hope in the Lord and wait for the morning.  Morning will come.

Petals of suffering continue to fall, terminally ill patients facing their worst fears in loss of health, perhaps the loss of a loved one or even their own life

Falling petals

One little petal, Vicki (3) entered the care of Emanuel Hospice two weeks ago. She has advanced cancer.  A difficult and heart rendering decision has been made to halt her curative treatment; it is simply not working.  There are two other children in this family – a brother (7) and a sister (4).  Vicki is very small and fragile.  This precious little flower knows only pain as the illness has now spread throughout her tiny body. A little one of three unable to walk, when she should be creating memories during these formative years. I cannot comprehend the sorrow in the hearts of these young parents as they watch their little flower fade before their eyes. Her little eyes searching for answers and asking Mummy ‘Why so much pain Mummy?’  The evident parting will be painful for her adoring parents, Vicki is precious and dearly loved by her family whose path of suffering seems harsh and unending.  Next time you see a little one of three skipping, jumping, playing, natural for a three-year-old, whisper ‘Vicki’.

Mariara is the mother of four children. Her condition continues to deteriorate, so much so, she is now in hospital.  Her little boy of seven is filled with fear.  In fear of losing his mum, his tears flow and they are real tears as he cries: ‘Life will never be the same without ‘My Mummy’.’   

Nicolas (4) a new patient, also diagnosed with cancer. Pray for him as he will require urgent surgery to remove a tumour. Further information regarding his condition will be confirmed following surgery and biopsy results. 

In my days of sadness, which if honest are many, in my quiet moments I think of the little ones who are terminally ill and where for many there is no expectancy of life. Yes, it tears me in to small pieces.  I hold my precious friend Estera close in my heart and miss my visits with her to ‘My Children’.  God knows ‘Why’.  Faces come to mind; Damian was a precious little boy who died two years ago following a brain tumour.  He used to know it was ‘Sister Shirley’ visiting with Estera as when he lost his sight; he used the power of smell and always recognised my perfume.  His brother (16) was baptised yesterday.  Estera and I are thrilled Marco made a decision to follow the Lord.

One patient I will never forget is my friend Dorina who died leaving two precious children, Diana and David.  I still maintain my contact with David and Diana as they became special in my life.  Many of you will recall Diana milking the cows at 5am in the morning before boarding the bus bound for Oradea to attend school.  Diana was also baptised yesterday in their home Pentecostal church.  Diana has chosen nursing as her profession in memory of her darling Mum, I thank the Lord that through the affliction and loss of her Mum, Diana will be an instrument of mercy to many.

Kevin is waiting to be scheduled for surgery and Ella, our precious Ella, her young life is filled with pain and continuous struggle. A young teenager whose body is held captive by a raging disease. 

Jennifer has lost her beloved father.  Laszio, who was suffering from gastric cancer, died a few days ago.  Jennifer’s mother abandoned her family many years ago; therefore, she will now be in the care of her grandmother who shared with us that Jennifer is overwhelmed by grief. She constantly fears that something will happen to her grandmother and that if her grandmother dies, she will be totally alone in this world.  The grandmother is distraught, the last wish of her son Laszio before he died was to smoke one final cigar.  This thought is causing overwhelming distress during her time of grieving for her son.

Mr. Filip (67) – liver cancer and multiple metastasis. After he finished his chemotherapy, a metastasis appeared on his ribs, he required immediate radiotherapy. Soon after, another metastasis appeared on the sternum and on his lower back. These are very painful, and because of the metastasis on his lower back, he is unable to sit on a bed or chair for more than a few minutes. He constantly walks around the house and sits only to rest for a few minutes. He endures many sleepless nights trying to find a position in which the pain is bearable.

Elisabeta (62) – tumour localized on the left part of her neck. The tumour has exulcerated causing extreme pain. Elisabeta also suffers from dementia displaying many episodes of anger, verbally assaulting nurses and refusing to co-operate with them.  Her sister called requesting help from our Hospice team because Elisabeta is constantly left alone. Her carer does not take proper care of her. 

Love has many price tags, some of little or no value. Such are the price tags placed on the abundance of children with disabilities. Dora, who is a team member of Casa Grace, has one hundred and seventeen children in her therapy classes. Sixty-seven represent families from the community and fifty orphans.  New cases are mostly Autistic and Down Syndrome children with many of our families representing children displaying both disabilities. Without the service offered free by Casa Grace, these children would not have the opportunity to attend therapy classes. 

Dominic (20 months) is one of our Down Syndrome babies.  He has eye deficiencies and is totally dependent on his mother.  He becomes very distressed during therapy sessions. Our aim is to decrease his total dependence on his mother, and through the use of audio and visual toys cause him to become more independent, a normal and adventurous baby boy.

Sophia (2) Down Syndrome, is able to walk unaided if she maintains total eye contact.  We use her curiosity to help her explore the environment and form a bond of communication.

Elijah (3) was abandoned by the state system. He is underdeveloped and would pass for a baby of one year old.  He suffers from congenital Syphilis, and is mentally delayed, suffering from spells of pneumonia. He is able to walk with the aid of a stick.  Our aim is to use his audio attention to encourage him to crawl and to explore the environment to teach him the art of listening through musical toys.  I miss nursing him!

I never cease to be amazed at the mass colouring of yellow formed by the gorse blooming along the country roadside in Spring.  Gorse blooming from thorns, a harvest of wheat from grain… where there is injury, may I bring peace.

An elderly village lady whose dark eyes are filled with sadness is trying to grow flowers from thorns.   Her grandson was abandoned by his mother, left in the care of a father who displayed no love and offered no responsibility. Forgetting her own pain and sacrificing friends and home, this grandmother moved from Oradea to a village to a home in disrepair where she renovated one room, kitchen and bathroom for herself and her beloved grandson.  His father has chosen to live with another lady. What love this grandmother shows in making a home for a little boy who has only known seven years of existing in a wilderness. Many thorns have pierced his young life.  We as a team in Casa Grace prayed, knowing when God says give, there is nothing to lose.  But papers were a must, a first priority. Finally, documents have been received from the State to enable us to move forward with our two-year counselling and feeding programme.  The village home is sparsely furnished but spotlessly clean.  Perhaps for some, a place of nothingness?  Would I be prepared to live in a place of self-despair, in unfavourable conditions, intractable people, facing impossible odds?  The Lord can transform all human suffering into blessing.  Come with us, come and help us.

A quiet and peaceful family consisting of a mother, father and two daughters of fifteen and twelve years of age, living in a small one-bedroom apartment.  The mother donated one of her kidneys to her brother, resulting in numerous health problems with severe complications leaving her extremely weak, unable to work.  The father works full time as a pastry chef. Casa Grace has accepted this family into our programme as this family displayed courage during their time of health failure.  To receive food and hygiene is a blessing for them but we have a higher goal, that they will come to know the One who gives living bread.  Pray for the team at Casa Grace that they may know guidance and be able to give wise counsel.

David is a hard-working young man.  David’s mother was killed when he was very young and his father is in prison.  He, together with his brothers and sisters were placed within the Child Protection system. Life is complicated for him as he is on his own now and it is difficult to know his inner thoughts.   Our team at Casa Grace talk with him and offer support.  This week we installed a used washing machine into his one room apartment.  We wait in faith for a transformation in his life.

There are times when many feel forgotten, forsaken, when sorrow heaps into mounds of the unthinkable.  The point of despair is a constant road of suffering for:

Isabela (14) is the daughter of a lady who has been under the supervision of Iochebed for the past two years. Jasmina (mother) has experienced constant hardships of life, including the heartbreak of two unwanted pregnancies.  Isabela has serious heart issues which require immediate heart surgery.  Last year, she went to a doctor for a consultation. The heart specialist works only in the private sector therefore surgery, medication and hospital fees must be paid. This family has no financial means to move forward for the surgery as Jasmina has five other children at home; the father is the only one working. We have paid for travel, consultancy and other fees to the hospital in Bucharest on three occasions.   After each visit, they returned home with a new set of tests also financed by Iochebed.  Once results are received and confirmed, Isabela will be scheduled for immediate surgery. We want to support them financially in travel expenses and other urgent needs. We pray that God will touch Isabela and that the surgery be successful. We look to the Lord to send the finance.

FOOTNOTE: An email from Gabi has just been received stating that Isabela has undergone heart surgery a few hours ago, she is in the ICU of the Marie Curie Children’s Hospital, Bucharest.  ISABELA NEEDS OUR PRAYERS.

Ana is a mother of five children where there are no seasons of joy in her life.  Spring time and Summer never come; it is always winter in her heart.  Her little girl of eight is ill, test results show cirrhosis of the liver.  Ana is filled with fear and uncertainty and has requested prayer for her little one.  Ana’s world has collapsed around her feet; her voice trembles as she speaks.  Pray the winds of faith will blow in healing and that Lord will touch her daughter.

Nicoleta (22) is thirty-one weeks pregnant. Recently she was told that the baby’s umbilical cord is twisted around the neck area. The doctor has advised it will not be possible to give birth naturally and they need to perform a caesarean section before term. May God comfort her and give Nicoleta peace.

Andreea (16) is a young mother with a five-month-old baby.  Andreea was unaware she was pregnant again and continued to do physical work.  During the night she miscarried; this occurred a few days ago.  Andreea is very young and frightened but is unable to go to hospital as there is no one to care for her five-month-old baby.  We have advised her to go to hospital but she is refusing saying she is feeling better now and does not have the money to travel to the city of Suceava. May the Lord protect this young teenager from infections and may she overcome the shock of loss!

The Baptist church in Sofronea where Andrei is pastoring has now resumed normal Sunday services within the church building with the orchestra and choir participating. They plan for the children’s meetings to recommence in the village. Pray children will come as the gospel story of Jesus and his love is shared.  Preparations are in progress to work with children linked to the Ferma church. A young lady has come forward requesting to become involved in serving the Lord.   Saturday outreach will be held every week. Pray she will be effective and consistent as there is a lot of ground work to be accomplished. These children are totally unchurched. 

Andrei continues to preach the word faithfully every Sunday.  Presently, preparation classes are being held for baptism.  Four people came forward in salvation and have expressed their desire to follow the Lord in baptism. We give God the thanks for his ‘tokens of blessing’.   Andrei and Ligia will travel to Sibiu this weekend for the Annual Baptist Conference, Andrei has been asked to preach in the Baptist church in Drobeta Turnu-Severin, a city south of Romania.  Pray for my adopted son that God will move in his young heart and make him a fisher of men.  May the catch of fish be in abundance as he throws out the net.

Lily had been in a coma since her car accident in December (three months).  She was transferred to a private hospital in Oradea.  In answer to prayer, Lily has resumed consciousness and is able to move her hands and feet.  However, she is unable to speak.  Her mother, mother-in-law are members of Andrei’s church in Sofronia.  Lily moved to Arad approximately ten years ago where she now lives with her family.  Her recovery will be long and closely monitored.  Pray for this tragic situation.

Many of you are aware, I have been writing a weekly report on the Ukrainian refugee situation.  Monika, Gabi, Pastor(s) Catalin, Ovi, Andrei and Alex, together with teams of volunteers continue ministering on the borders. Finance is transferred daily to secure the purchasing of medicine, food, hygiene and urgent requirements.  Speaking with Monika (minutes ago) I learned that Casa Grace have been requested to secure a place of refuge for a period of two weeks to accommodate fifty-two Ukrainian orphans. A secure place approximately fifty kilometres outside Oradea has been identified with stocks of medicine, food, hygiene and clothing ready and available.  I ask for your prayer support – appropriate papers/documents are causing a delay in this process.  May we know Godly counsel and wisdom in this matter. 

We may ask: ‘Why?’   God will explain ‘Why?’.  ‘I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness’.  (Ps 17: 15)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022