George MacDonald wrote: ‘I am content to be and have what in Thy heart I am meant to be and have’.
I am trying to analyse these words, to accept that I am not here to be served but rather to serve. The words of Col 3: 14 tell me ‘Love holds everything and everybody together’. It is a must that my love is constructive. A selfless love reaching out to a hungry child, a helpless and forsaken widow, a terminally ill patient where each second their breathing grows fainter. I must have the inner courage to love without cost, surrendering my personal thoughts and desires, accepting that whatever I do, I do as ‘Unto the Lord’.
Iron shoes are needed to walk the emotional roads of the case studies within the vast and varied outreach of Casa Grace. My colleagues deal with situations that rock the very foundations of broken lives. Floods of unemployment; illness; death – the rivers have burst their banks in many flooded villages of pain.
Families in failing heath without resources for treatment:
Lidia – diabetes, dialysis; Sandu – awaiting diagnosis to confirm advanced state of cancer; Matei husband – cancer; Mariana is awaiting surgery but hospitals remain closed, curfews on travel etc. We are trying to move this family to their new home before Christmas.
Families without a home:
Misaros; Matei; Fodor; Palkucz: Rostas: Heghedus; Szekeres. The monthly outlay for these families is double as they are required to pay rent, utility bills – there is no money remaining for food.
Fodor family – A beloved husband; Pridon family – Grandmother: Nan family – A beloved husband. We weep with those who weep.
No wood for the freezing romanian winter:
Nan family; Fodor family. Both families mourn the loss of a beloved husband, father.
Pray for the salvation of:
Misaros family; Matei family; Fodor family; Palkucz family; Arene family; Brumaru family; Mariana’s family; Rostasfamily; Hegheduș family; Szekeres family.
Speaking with Monika yesterday, I longed to be back in my beloved Romania where those I love are crying out for ‘change’. They ask ‘when is Sister Shirley returning?’ Their pain is my pain. The beloved mother of a village home I visited on many occasions has been diagnosed with a 3 cm brain tumour. Doctors require an enormous amount for life saving surgery. They live without a water pump which means no water in the house, for drinking, cooking, washing or bathroom. Surgery fees? These situations are real, the reality of village life in Romania.
Monika and Neli write:
It is clear that because, we have the ongoing prayer and financial support of Tell Romania, many lives are encouraged and lifted up. They are amazed by the provision shown to them. May our Heavenly Father give us the right words to say as we distribute the urgently needed food and hygiene support. Thank you, Sister Shirley
My beloved hospice patients fill my heart with a sense of helplessness. I embrace their personal fear, yearning for circumstances to change. An overwhelming sense of inadequacy penetrates deeply into the core of my heart. Join me in praying they will know the Shepherd who can offer pastures new.
Elena (30) has been fighting her personal battle with a brain tumour for over two years. She lives with her husband and son of eight years old in one single room located in a village near Oradea. She often has epileptic seizures, waking sometimes in the middle of the night, screaming or being totally confused. Her young son is witnessing this and her husband is deeply affected by the suffering of his wife and of what the future will hold.
Sorin (69) was a patient who suffered from lung cancer with bone and brain metastasis. Sorin died last week. Adriana, our Hospice Psychologist spoke to Sorin about salvation before his death. Adriana (52), his wife, needs our prayers. After her husband’s illness started to spread throughout his body, he was no longer able to care for himself. At this point his wife’s mental health was severely affected; she commenced psychiatric treatment, now she is afraid that she will be unable to face life without him. She suffers from a heart condition and has undergone surgery. Sorin’s funeral was a few days ago and she is feeling distraught and fearful. My colleague Adriana will continue to support her during these early days of loss.
Vasile (66) is a patient with a form of larynx cancer; he needs a gastrostomy in order to be fed, often experiencing extreme physical pain. His sister takes care of him (the patient is divorced) but they often disagree. Recently, his lungs were affected by cancer also and Vasile often experiences the sensation that he is suffocating. This leads to anxiety problems, facing the patient with the reality of his eminent death. We pray he will eventually find peace in the Lord, especially during the pain and anxiety of daily life.
Bogdi (20) suffers from muscular dystrophy. He is cared for by his loving mother. His illness is progressive resulting in limited use of his hands. Each day is a day of emotional pain for Bogdi and his loving Mum.
Luca (14) is a new patient we have taken into our care. He has been diagnosed with tetraparesis. Cared for by his parents, this family, living in a village, need emotional support in caring for their beloved son. There is no contentment in weakness; they are totally broken.
Iuliana (58) is scheduled to have a CT scan this week. She is experiencing a lot of discomfort but because she comes from a very poor and disadvantaged family, there is no finance for investigations, treatment or medication. Iuliana has been diagnosed with cervical neoplasm, now in the advanced stages of terminal cancer. A relatively young lady suffering extreme pain from her illness. Comfort is a stranger to her as she has no one to support her or show her love; her sons do not want to know. A case of extreme poverty, a lady longing to be loved and comforted in her last days on this earthly journey. Where is love? Love alone can change this life. I remember this precious sister and yes, I am wiping the tears from my keyboard. Luliana is holding out her hand to be loved, will you love enough to care?
Kevin is progressing slowly; small steps but still progress in being able to step on his foot where extensive surgery was performed.
Our little Ella is very poorly. Her rare form of cancer is now causing her whole skin to be covered in a severe and painful rash. A teenager with no friends, no health. Angelina, her Mum has a heavy cross to bear as her son Aurialian and Ella both suffer from the same form of cancer which is affecting most areas of their bodies. I remember climbing eighteen flights of stairs to see this beloved family prior to the father’s death. My friend Estera and I looked up to the very top floor and sighed as we commenced our ‘breathless journey’. Please remember Ella. There is no cure or prospect of recovery.
Alex is now in Bucharest accompanied by his sister Cosmina. Alex contracted Covid-19; we cannot believe he has survived. His condition remains unchanged, years in a coma, his health continues to deteriorate. His weight loss and muscle wastage are cause for concern and his general medical condition continues to worsen.
My adopted son Andrei and his young wife Ligia are progressing well in their first pastorate. Andrei is working hard to build relationships within the surrounding villages. Pray for him as he encounters obstacles, boulders of impossibilities. He is young but his trust is in the One who has the power to keep. Pray his faith will be strengthened and that villagers will commence attending the church. Pray for the family of young Alex they still live in a disused train carriage.
‘Why is this happening to me?’ A question addressed every day to my colleagues in Iochebed Counselling Centre. Young girls suffering perverse circumstances, recipients of unkindness, perhaps even unjust criticism. Gabi is often faced with difficult decisions; each case study is different yet all have one common denominator – confusion. In wisdom our team of three determine the limitations surrounding each individual case. Seconds, minutes, hours, spent counselling and perhaps interrupting unhealthy plans.
Nicoleta (32) is nine weeks into her pregnancy and she is both heartbroken and confused. A Gynaecologist confirmed the baby has three Hematomas, one being excessively large. Nicoleta is totally bewildered and fearful and while we know we cannot always control situations, pray the pregnancy will be resolved and that Nicoleta will find the strength to endure.
Mihaela (18) gave birth to a baby boy during September. The baby is suffering from pneumonia and remains in hospital. Mihaela is sad as she sits by the cot of her little one, listening to his cries. Eighteen, a wife, a mother and her husband is in prison. Mihaela is totally alone, frightened, with nowhere to turn or no one to support her. Each phase of life brings new fears. Pray the transforming power will shine light into the darkness of this searching young teenager.
Roxana (17) has just given birth to a baby boy of 3,25 kg named Ayan. She has no milk to feed her baby and is without resources to purchase dried milk. Roxana came, bereft of hope, another young teenager of seventeen with no experience of life. She attended our counselling classes in Iochebed where she has been encouraged to place her trust in the Lord. The months ahead are bleak as there is a freezing winter ahead for all our teenage mothers. Life is hard for these Roma girls. Their cupboards are never full, perhaps one loaf of stale bread will grace a makeshift table. Many nights I sit and quietly ask ‘Lord please explain why?’
Tudorita (22) a young mother of three children aged five, four and eighteen months. The youngest child has developed a severe allergy. Tudorita is unable to take the child to the doctor- another young mother without money for food. The fences of poverty are high. Tudorita is overloaded with care, unable to find away to cover consultation fees and medication. With tears streaming down her face, she confessed life was hard as her father died recently and her young heart is overwhelmed with grief.
Elisabeth Elliot wrote:
Thanksgiving and Christmas then, for us who love God, are not mere time outs from work days. They are a celebration of the gift of work itself, days on which we celebrate work by declaring our freedom. In a manner of speaking, we announce that on this one day we may rest from our work, and without pressure or guilt, we may be glad. A holiday is a holy day – meant for rejoicing in God.
We are about to enter the month of December. Excited children will ask: ‘how many sleeps now?’ Or a loving parent will say: ‘close your eyes and dream of your surprise’. I want you to see through the eyes of Dora who has worked with unwanted and forgotten children for twenty-one years. Dora and I share a special love for these children and our days in the Orphanage Centre in Oradea where Tell Romania opened a Therapy Room for the children still live in my heart. Life is somewhat different for these children; all they want for Christmas is someone to love them. Let Dora tell her story:
‘Has it really been TWENTY-ONE years since I first worked with the orphaned, abandoned children of Romania also children with severe disabilities? As I reflect on those years, I want people to see through my eyes what it means to me personally to work with these special children. To see the small changes that bring me joy, happiness and satisfaction. To see how these children respond to even the smallest touch of a tearful cheek. Their little faces light up, forming a smile when you hold their hand. To see them “try” through small noises to express themselves. To see even the smallest progress, depending on each child’s diagnoses and potential. To see how happy they are to come to the therapy class, jumping with glee and excitement saying “Dora will you give me a small chocolate, wafer or snack?” They know it is there for them even if they make progress or not. Seeing them respond to a happy song playing in the background. How I wish you could see just how much a simple touch, a hug, a good word, a little attention, a show of affection, a small toy, a small candy or snack means. What joy you can bring to a little one who feels one sweet is too much them. Yes, they feel different, they feel they are not worthy of “one sweet”. Little can be much and certainly to provide a treat for these precious children is a small ask. For other children these things are normal, accepted without thought or appreciation, but for these special children it is a “Wow” factor. Working with this category of children takes a lot of patience, love, dedication, time, work and energy, repeating the same thing over and over many times until suddenly the child will learn and respond. A small progress alone is my reward. Thank you, Sister Shirley, for providing small treats for my kids’.
I have shared my heart regarding those I love and support. Their wounds are deep, but if they don’t change my heart … then? We live in a dark and broken world; someone must care. I ask you to set time aside each day to remember ‘even one’. We cannot change every situation or support every need but will you take one case to your heart – all I ask is: ‘remember them’.
“Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of the believer in Jesus Christ. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others. Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.” (Billy Graham)
Shirley, November 29, 2021
42B Bernice Road, Belfast. BT36 4QZ