‘Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord’ Psalm 130: 1.
‘Despair and Devastation’ immediately come to mind, lives overwhelmed with the extremity of intense pain; the absence of hope? Few have known a ‘Burning Bush’ experience, but rather one of parting waters leading to unknown junctures deciding if we ‘walk on’ or simply ‘give up’? The battlefield of life can be a cruel battle of conflict. As I turn to the book of Job, one thing stands out: Job never ‘gave up’. ‘But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23: 10). Job knew the depth of despair, the intense pain of suffering, but he also knew God’s word was sure.
This month my ‘blog’ is filled with hopelessness, mental anguish and unthinkable hardships. The unrelenting blows of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout Romania and have taken precious lives; sickness and unemployment has brought hunger. The emptiness and weariness of each day has only one thing to offer – emotional loss. Lives are crushed. The depth of an ocean is such that even a raging tempest is unable to stir. I pray my beloved patients and families will know the peace of God. ‘When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?’ (Job 34: 29)
SEVENTY-SIX terminally ill patients have died! Seventy-six broken hearts who have watched their loved ones fade away; the scars of loss are deep as they whisper their final ‘Goodbye’. ‘Why?’ they ask over and over again; they do not understand and explanations are not what they want to hear. Pray that through this life changing experience, that they will meet the One who can mend their brokenness and satisfy the deepest longing of their heart. A personal request for my beloved Catalina who will be eighty-one next birthday. Adriana conveys my messages of love to her personally, yet from a picture received today I could see she had become frail. Her neck tumour is spreading into her throat. Please whisper her name.
Our ‘Little Ella’ requires surgery as her eyesight is failing. Most of her young life of eighteen years has been spent in hospital. Ella has been robbed of friends, education. Her mother, Angelina bears a heavy burden as her son Aurielan, suffers from the same rare form of cancer. Angelina struggles alone since the loss of her husband.
A new family with an adolescent boy, perfectly healthy until recently. Now, due to a neurological illness he is totally dependent upon his mother. The mother is a devout Christian lady but her husband does not share her love of our precious Lord.
Krisof, (3) diagnosed with Leukemia is having severe complications. We spoke of this family last month, who are going through great financial difficulty. Due to the Pandemic continuing to sweep throughout Romania, the father is unable to find employment. They need food for their baby daughter.
Nicolae (63), suffering from Pulmonary cancer. His wife has Paranoiac Schizophrenia, and his daughter, Mirela, (35) was diagnosed with an obsessive phobic disorder when she was twenty. They live together in a very old dilapidated house which is totally unkept. They had another daughter, who died of cancer when she was 17. Nicolae endures these unacceptable conditions, because of his daughter, Mirela, who is unable to work more than 2 hours each day. She has great difficulty integrating.
Ms. Floare suffers from cancer of the oesophagus and pharynx, she has now developed Gastrostoma followed by a Tracheostomy. She was not open or interested in the Christian faith. This now has changed since her illness, requesting the Hospice team to pray with her during every visit. ‘Lord, even for One’. Continue to remember the team of Emanuel Hospice, who are on call twenty-four hours each day. We thank the Lord for his goodness in protecting our workers. Due to the rising numbers of COVID-19, the team had to be retested – all proved negative. To God Be the Glory.
Suceava is far removed from Oradea, spanning a twelve-hour drive by car. Although a long way to travel, it is a journey where one is surrounded by breath-taking beauty. The Carpathian Mountains draped in velvet slopes with the piercing blue sky above. I recall walking down a pathway of trees and in the quietness, trying to capture the beauty. ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth’, (Psalm 121: 1-2). The reality of today is that dusty roads still lead to darkness where an uninhabited shack surrounded with squalor is ‘HOME’ for numerous pairs of piercing eyes, bare footed little ones who are hungry. Young mothers unable to supply dried milk for their babies, the hardship is real. Survival is a challenge. Amy Carmichael wrote:
Give me the love that leads the way, the faith that nothing can dismay, the hope no disappointments tire, the passion that will burn like fire. Let me not sink to be a clod, Make me thy fuel, Flame of God.
Maria was looking forward to the birth of her twin girls, sadly they did not survive. Maria’s heart is torn apart with grief.
Mirabela (17) arrived at Iochebed centre somewhat distraught. Her pregnancy test was positive. Mirabela was filled with fear and disbelief, it was not the news she expected. I praise the Lord for the godly counselling offered by our small team of three. Through their counselling sessions, Mirabela now realises that life is God given and has agreed to keep her baby. “My parents, my boyfriend, will they stand by me?”
Ana had no other choice but to leave her four children behind to work in the Fruit Farms in Germany. The elderly lady caring for Ana’s four children is ill. Ana is back in Suceava without money. The meagre wages paid to Roma people used in travel expenses and paying debts. Home and nowhere to lay her head, living in fear of losing her children, who could be taken into care by Child Protection. Everything seems impossible to Ana just now; she is surrounded by failure. Gabi and I have been in consultation; we want to be involved in this situation praying a small rental room can be found where the family can live together. Gabi is presently in talks with the authorities – this is an urgent prayer request, four pairs of dark eyes and four little curly heads need a soft pillow to rest their little heads in a place they call for the first-time ‘HOME’.
The barren and unreceptive deserts remain. Soon it will be autumn, the falling leaves will blow the arrival of a cold unwelcome winter and I fear the clusters of COVID-19 will peak. ‘Shirley’, I tell myself, ‘Only one thing is needed’. I need to replace my preparations with His presence to help me understand. Then and only then, will I find Him.
Cheeks wet with tears, brows wet with perspiration, walking miles for one loaf of bread. Once more came the answer, when a man and his son brought bread to Casa Grace. God knew what was needed for the remains of that particular day. The Vocational Training Room has resumed, village ladies travel miles to learn the art of sewing, repair, embroidery under the watchful eye of my friend Dana who supervises all modules taught. Some walk, others, eager to learn, travel and are left without money for food. Dana’s amazing smile says it all as she points to ‘bread on his table’ for the hungry to take home. God’s provision and just when needed.
A new family composed of parents and ten children ranging in age from ten to twenty-two. Beautiful names, Maria, Teofil, Marta, Elisabeta, Andrei, Daniel, Lidia, Abigail, Benjamin and Marcu. Twelve adults living in a small communist flat, the father worked as a miner but is presently unemployed. The mother has many medical conditions and her state of health deteriorates. The children each have their own responsibilities within the family home. A Christian family who love the Lord, twelve people receiving little or no income – only one of the hundreds who climb steep mountains every day.
The world surrounding these precious families is one of loss. Loss of finances, health, self-respect, enslaved in a prison of their own making. Yet I am privileged to have an abundance of blessing. At times I find myself asking for understanding when questioning, why the difference? I cannot ignore or simply go through the motions when the downcast are captives to the slave of circumstances.
Ana has finally been admitted to hospital. The surgeon is hoping to proceed immediately with the required surgery, which was due to have taken place in May. However, owing to hospital closures all treatment and surgeries were placed on hold. Ana reminds me of a budding tree, determined to blossom even in seasons of dryness. Losing her children for eight years, losing her home in a fire, diagnosed with cancer; now a secondary. Please pray for Ana and her three children that they will be reunited and that through this Ana will come to meet the Master.
In your intimate moments with the Lord, please remember those who are not on our case files within Casa Grace; nevertheless, they come, knowing they will not be turned away. One lady who resides in a village many miles from Oradea, came for food, she had seven hungry little ones and yet she knew she could come and be received with open arms of love. Other families living in a Social Centre, where they are not permitted to cook, come and receive money to purchase the basic necessities. Yes, still they come. £5 will bring a smile to a hungry little face whose tiny soiled hands will grasp even dry bread with eyes of thankfulness. The taste is much better than the crumbs found in a garbage dumpster by the roadside. Children are not the only ones who go hungry; the elderly try to survive alone, perhaps tending a little patch of ground or sharing milk from the village cow, as it makes its way home through the village street.
Dora continues her therapy sessions with the Orphans, Down Syndrome, Mentally and Physically Disabled children and Abandoned babies. Your ‘snacks’ bring a smile from ear to ear. Thank you for making the impossible, possible.
My adopted son Andrei and his young wife Ligia are progressing well in their first pastorate. Pray for them as they seek to reach out into the surrounding villages. A lady (early sixties) diagnosed with terminal cancer, gave her life to the Lord and was baptised in the open air, witnessed by her unsaved family, which included an alcoholic grandson and many grandchildren indifferent to the gospel. What a mission field! With all the splendour of creation and wonder of nature, still there are those whose lives know no beauty. Ligia ‘found’ a homeless man (50) dying from terminal cancer. Her natural instinct was to show that God, the Giver of Life, can make everything beautiful in his time. A room was found for this dying man to find peace and comfort during his final days on earth – he preferred the damp and unkept pavements, clutched his blue bin bags and walked away. Remember this man and ‘ALL’ we have shared with you. Ligia did let her light shine, pray it will become a beacon in this homeless shelter.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me … (Psalm 42: 8)
Shirley, July 25th, 2020