A LOVE THAT KNOWS NO LIMIT:
Serving ‘others’: Lately, I find myself taking a close look at my own personal service, reviewing the depth of my compassion. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say, I am ‘deeply’ troubled. Writing my blog highlights my own area of weaknesses. I feel helpless as I try to respond to the overwhelming needs. I must not miss my purpose and so in faith I leave my feelings of inadequacy and weakness to the strength of the One who will never fail. Thousands of Ukrainian people are crossing the border from Ukraine into Suceava where Iochebed is located, mainly mothers with their little ones. Christian volunteers were the first to welcome the refugees at the border, offering sandwiches, water, tea, coffee, bibles, free transportation and accommodation. Many refugees have also crossed the border in other parts of Romania. Romanian Christian families are opening their homes and assisting in every way possible.
Pray for all our friends throughout Romania: Pastors; Faculty; Students; Casa Grace; Emanuel Hospice and Iochebed. ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matt: 25: 35). The proof of loving God is loving people. ‘LOVE’does not come with rules, it is not complicated, it is our opportunity to express the character and nature of our Heavenly Father whose ‘LOVE’ indeed knows no limit.
The quietness of the snowflakes falling in the early hours comforted me. I watched as soft layers of snow formed a flawless white carpet. Hours later, the perfection of flawless beauty had been marred by the scars of deep footprints. In my January blog, I made reference to footprints. I pray as I write again this month that footprints of kindness will act as a miracle-working grain or seed that would germinate and grow into something beautiful. My plans, once fixed, have changed; changed by Divine appointment. My patients, families and children are who they are; they were not given a choice and accept whatever comes. Life is for living; many barely exist, yet they manage to smile hoping with another day, things may be different. Our Feeding Programme(s); Medication: Humanitarian Aid; Response to Crisis Needs are given in faith, believing that paths of suffering will become mountain paths filled with outbursts of beauty. Time for me to return to my ABC(s) where lessons of trust, patience and expectancy will teach me the impossible is possible.
Trials are not pleasant; life, whilst for living, can be grievous. The smoking volcanic mountain erupts forming a heap of unimaginable pain and suffering. We, as God’s children know the true meaning of ‘rest’ as found in Matt: 11: 28 ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’. The weariness of struggle is real and exhausting work. How long? Will my pain ever end? The team of Emanuel Hospice offer palliative care to the terminally ill and in love share the gospel telling them that although they may not know what tomorrow may hold, they can know the One who holds tomorrow and that His grace is sufficient for them and that His strength is made perfect in their weakness.
SERVING IN LOVE:
The service of Emanuel Hospice springs from hearts that beat with ‘mission’. A mission to serve in the spirit of love. Comfort and dignity is offered to those who struggle with physical, psychological, social and spiritual suffering related to terminal illness. All is freely given in the spirit of Christian love. Thank you for your partnership which enables us to continue the feeding programme to the dying adults and children. Our team provide palliative care services for both adults and children in Oradea and rural areas with a capacity of eighty adults and thirty children. Special cases such as our ‘Wee Ella’ who many of you will remember are monitored. Ella is very weak at present, a young teenager whose body is wasting away due to the progression of her illness. Her brother Aurialian’s condition is more advanced, a young man in his early twenties totally dependent on his mother. With a true devotion, as a candle is consumed by the passion of its flame, may we be consumed to love and serve these precious patients. Indeed, the heartbeat of our mission is to love and serve and remember those who walk a path of suffering.
Samuel (10) a new patient, diagnosed with tetra paresis. Samuel is one of four children and is lovingly cared for by his mother and father. They live in the dark corners of extreme poverty, existing from one day to the other. A family in deep need and in deep distress.
Marioara: Widowed and confined to bed suffering from advanced stages of cancer. A CT scan has confirmed her illness has spread throughout her body. Her young teenage daughter (17) quietly carries this burden of knowing her beloved mum will not recover. She alone will have the responsibility of caring for her two brothers who suffer from tetra paresis, one who is permanently confined to a wheelchair. Marioara is heartbroken, her children have lost their father and fears the outcome of her illness. A cry from a heartbroken mum: ‘Who will love my children?’ The little boy of seven refuses to attend school fearing his beloved mum will be gone on his return. Marioara remains close to the Lord, knowing that the very hairs of her head are numbered and her name is engraved on his hands. Surround her with ‘LOVE’.
Pety (17) diagnosed with a rare liver disorder. His brother died very young with the same illness. As his illness progresses, investigations will be ongoing to confirm if the illness is malignant.
Marinela (Director) and my dear Estera visited the grandparents of little Daniel to offer emotional and spiritual support. Daniel’s grandfather’s pain is such that he is unable to communicate with Daniel’s friends. The memories are too painful. Through his tears he tells us that the Lord is everything to him as he is all he has now. Grief is real, but God is the healer of broken hearts.
Ramona (41) diagnosed with cervix cancer one year ago, was anticipating surgery that could possibly save her life. In consultation, it has been confirmed that due to the growth of the tumour, it is impossible to perform lifesaving surgery. Ramona has five children, three girls and two boys aged between ten and twenty-one. Adriana (Physiologist) is visiting the family to work with the younger children. Ramona will commence chemotherapy soon, believing the Lord will heal her. Ramona maintains care of the family home and her children, lovingly assisted by her mother.
Indrie Family: Lazar, diagnosed with colon cancer, died last week. His four children loved ‘their Daddy’ and he them. He fought hard during these past two years of deep pain and emotional suffering, but the illness became completely out of control. Adriana is also visiting this family to offer support to his wife, who is struggling to cope with the loss of her husband. Her heart is broken because of the physical suffering she watched her beloved husband go through before his final breath. Adriana is working closely with Sara (10) the youngest daughter of the family as she is deeply affected.
Ildiko (66) unknown to her family this precious lady has been suffering from breast cancer for several years. She refused any form of treatment until now; the tumour has exulcerated forming an open wound. Her chest and torso are both affected, bleeding heavily and requiring clean dressings every day. Our nursing staff are challenged as this is one of the most difficult cases they have ever encountered,
‘WHERE IS LOVE?’
Eleanor Roosevelt penned: ‘It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like calms in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death’.
Four ladies whose dreams lie in ashes. Beautiful babies, children who lack security and wonder ‘will life always be this way?’. They live in constant fear, the fear of tomorrow, rejection and of ever knowing the true meaning of love.
A few days ago, a bouncing baby boy (two months) was brought to Iochebed by the aunt of his young mother who suffers from schizophrenia. After the birth she developed post-natal depression and remains in hospital. Her fear is handling her heart, her tomorrow(s). Her strength is gone as she has never known love. This beautiful baby has no documents, no identity, therefore there are no benefits available. No mother to draw safe parameters for him, to guard or direct him. Who will purchase dried milk, pampers, clothing? Betrayed, bereft of love, alone. A lost cause? This is a challenge to love. Love penetrates the core of hopelessness and mends the brokenness.
Five children pleaded with their mother to return home to live with their father, insisting she would ‘try again. Roxana was forsaken and left totally alone, a lady who has only known extreme hardship. In fear and for the sake of her children she agreed. She is pregnant again and fears the future. Her previous births have all been difficult and the memory of raising her children, perhaps alone again, overwhelms her. We pray the Lord will speak peace to this searching and aching heart. We pray Roxana will be able to carry the baby full term.
Elena has three children of eight, seven and three years. She came to our centre requesting a scan which confirmed she is pregnant with her fourth child. Elena was distraught as she is extremely poor and cannot afford a fourth child, so her first reaction was to reject the pregnancy. During our counselling sessions we outlined that at six weeks the baby’s heart is beating and when we asked her to look at the images, her heart was clearly moved and with tearful eyes said she wishes to keep the baby. Another challenge to love and support this gift of life. Iochebed will be able to support this mother through the practical and prayerful support of those who stand with us in Tell Romania.
Lucia has three children (one year, ten months and six months). She also came to the centre requesting a scan which again proved positive. Lucia was shocked and shared her fears of caring for a fourth child. Her husband is ill, requiring surgery. He does not have insurance; therefore, they must pay for hospitalisation, surgery, treatment etc. He is unable to work and they barely manage to survive. She told us her three little ones were hungry especially the baby as she had no food at all. Our team are amazing in the giving of their time, love and patience. Lucia has made a decision to keep her baby. We at Iochebed will support throughout the pregnancy and after. We will also meet urgent medical needs. BUT we can only do this because YOU care. May the Lord bless you for standing with us in the work God has called us to do. We serve as one.
THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE:
‘O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
I find these words incredible, praying for such a love to be cultivated within me. I think of a small team of ladies in Casa Grace, whom I am privileged to call friends. Different personalities form our female species, all differing as individuals – there is the Mary and the Martha. The small team of Casa Grace touch many lives. Dana in her role as Supervisor of the Vocational Training Room, teaching three different modules each year. Ladies travelling from villages, young adults, all eager to learn where modules from beginner through to distinction are taught. Elisabeth (22) is one of fifteen children, taking the third training course which is the most advanced module. She lives 70 kms from Oradea and travels four hours to take her module in Casa. She lives in a small village and attends a local village Church with her large family. Elizabeth discovered her ability to create skirts, shirts, blouses, hair accessories etc. She purchased a sewing machine and started out on a new venture. Now, she has many clients, mainly from the church as they require modest dresses. She has become part of our family at Casa Grace, attending twice weekly until the completion of her final module, when she will graduate. She displays a good attitude towards work and works with great urgency. She is thankful for the opportunity she has been given to go through all the stages to become a seamstress of excellence. Dora, bringing sunshine into the darkness of our Kingdom Kids based within the Orphan Centre. Monika, Berta, Cornelia, Marilena trying to gain an insight into the struggles and emotions of social cases who form the desperately poor. These people are friendless and alone, I call Monika a ‘nest maker’. Every knock on the door of Casa is a knock for help.
Before any family can be accepted on to our two-year Feeding Programme, an initial evaluation takes place. Monika forwarded pictures of two families who have submitted applications. I scanned the images, the only thing of beauty I could see was the beautiful winter sky. The contrast within the two village houses was unbelievable. Lives without the Lord, lives filled with misery, sickness, poverty. We are so thankful those of you who support our three Feeding Programmes. It does change lives as during the two years our team offer counselling and management advice. A lady who was on our programme is now in a position where she is assisting in her Roma village. God’s love changes lives.
There was no sink unit, table, chairs; the food cupboard was a shelf with a few jars of pickled winter vegetables which is normally placed on bread as the main meal of the day. This family has started attending a Pentecostal church. Although the snow had passed, the torrential rain was a battle. The village is far removed from the main road and this family walk one hour to a train station in order to come to Oradea. The mother is from a Roma background and unable to read or write and has been diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes, her long-term diagnoses is grave as she is in danger of becoming blind in both eyes at any time. Each morning in the darkness of the early morning she walks her young daughter to the train station, repeating this one hour walk on her daughter’s return from school. During the day she tries to find work (cleaning and preparing chickens). Her son was born with health issues and remains very weak; however, he is studying at University in order to become an Accountant. Home is literally an ‘empty shell’ but it is spotless. We decided two months ago to take this family on to our Feeding Programme, offering hygiene products also.
Knowing there are situations filled with a darkness that is totally black fills me with despair but with your help, we can offer ‘hope’. Let us together bring the dawning of a new day. Hold the value of ‘LOVE’ in your heart.
DO YOU KNOW, YOU ARE LOVED?
Oswald Chambers wrote: ‘The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould us.’ As I read these words, I think of my adopted son Andrei, who is seeking to excel in his ministry as a young pastor, but who is not blinded to the broken and shattered lives around him in the surrounding villages near Sofronia where God has called him to serve.
Andrei is filled with a passion for the lost, teaching religious studies in the village schools and coming face to face with extreme poverty and brokenness. Young children are running to the safety and warmth of school, escaping from an environment where parents display abusive behaviour. A tiny figure of a little boy shivering with fear greeted Andrei – he has just witnessed another disagreement between his parents where his father abused and hit his mother.
Two other school children, seven and sixteen years of age, coming from a poor village, forced to live with their grandmother as their parents are divorced. They are so gentle with a beautiful nature. We may be strangers to such living conditions but they do exist. I shudder to think of the many ‘steps and stairs’ I used to see huddled in the corner of a one room wooden shack – this was home. Today, a disused train carriage is home to many! They survive from day to day on a diet of emptiness and longing. Our service should radiate from a flame of passion; if even only a flicker it should burn with a holy flame of love, love for those perhaps we class ‘2ndclass’. Love, in its true meaning is unknown there. The world is dying for words of kindness; it appears to be a lost art. Andrei is consumed with a passion for these children who are without identity. They are simply leaves, rose petals that will fall and blow away, never to be remembered. Can we remember them? Can we love them? A small church with five members, namely: ‘Ferma’ which is ‘The Farm’ has been formed. Only love can change and rebuild lives. ‘There is nothing so kindling as to see the soul of man or woman follow right over the edge of the usual into the untracked land – for love of Him, sheer love of Him. (A. Carmichael). Together, let the flicker of our candle light their darkness
‘When God overcomes our difficulties for us, we have the assurance that we are engaged in His work and not our own’ (George Muller).
Shirley, Sunday, February 27, 2022
42B Bernice Road, BT36 4QZ