(The Lord Was There)
Today I felt as though I was walking a road filled with Cactus plants; the roads are rough and uneven, yet it is a known fact that the flower of this plant symbolizes warmth, protection and endurance. From the outward and inward perspective all I hold in my heart is the hardness of difficulty and the reality of pain, where life itself has become a burden to so many of my patients and families. The darkest night has stars; these nights they are obscure from view. I struggle to grasp, or even touch with my fingertip the very fringe of their need. This morning my first visit with Emanuel Hospice to Elizabeth did not take place, this precious lady was taken from the scene of time in a moment, so soon, so unexpectantly. Time is short for so many, they need to know that in the midst of their personal storm the Lord is the only one who can calm the raging seas, torrential rain to a whisper (Psalm 107: 29). ‘Take God on thy route and thou shalt banish wrinkles from thy brow. Gethsemane itself shall not age thee if thou tread by the side of Jesus; for it is not the place of thy travel that make thee weary – it is the heaviness of thy step’ (George Matheson).
As Elisha I prayed ‘Lord, open my eyes’. I have no doubt that I will see things differently, remembering how the Lord stooped to pick up little children in his arms, how his humility touched so many. Visits today where somewhat different ranging from the local shopping mall to a small kitchen area with one wizened apple lying on a bare table. It was quickly washed, dried and offered to me with a face of sincerity that touched my very heart strings. The humbleness of my friends makes me feel so small, so inadequate and I pray that the lowliness of Christ be real to those who pass my way if only once.
As we drove through the mountain area of Meirlau it was quite an experience. Roads filled with cattle, sheep, geese all ‘SLOWLY’ making their way home. ‘Shirley, it’s three minutes past five’ came the tones from the front seat. My husband and I hurriedly made our way into the village church. I paused one moment, (even though a little late) and listened to the brass band play ‘Burdens are lifted at Calvary’. It may be rough, it may be steep but ‘I will make the place of thy feet glorious’. And it was! The singing of the congregation; the brass ensemble of the Meirlau Church; the prayers of the family of God; my eyes were opened and I felt my heart could minister in the emotion where for many the mower’s scythe had cut deep. Yes, we can grow impatient simply because we do not ‘stop’ to see even the beginning of God’s great mercy.
It has been seventeen months since my last visit to my friend Magdelina. A frail, smaller lady stood by the door watching for my coming. I heard her sobs before I saw the small figure in the doorway. I held her close as she sobbed ‘It has been so long, I never thought I would live to see you again’. Her condition and circumstances have worsened and as we chatted around the kitchen table, our friendship seemed sweeter. These people have become my people; my family; the children I never had. Emotion fills my heart and yet I am ‘at home’. Caterina was my next patient. There on a small bed I found a quiet lady with a beautiful smile. She is suffering from a malignant neck tumour which is now spreading to her ear and brain. I noticed a sewing machine in the corner and she smiled as she told me she purchased this machine forty years ago and it is still working. A seamstress all her life her sewing machine brought food to her table. ‘Being a widow was difficult, it was my only source of income to feed my children’. I gazed at the self-portrait on the wall and the image before me. How quickly the petals of a rose fall quietly to the ground and how quickly our day comes to an end. Young Ionut (21) confined to a lifetime in bed, unable to make any movement with his legs and arms, he can only move his head and fingers. At present I am trying to source a specialist wheel chair with extensions to 100cm wide to accommodate his left leg position. The Lord provided the electric wheel chair for Brother Emeric. Let us by faith wait on God’s timing. Later, alone with my thoughts I prayed: ‘Lord, help me to give freely of myself as thou gave to me’. ‘A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man’ (Robert Murray McCheyne). Others may boast of themselves, their work or achievements: today I could identify with the words of a hymn my mother used to sing: ‘I see thee not, I hear thee not, Yet art thou oft with me’ And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot, As where I meet with thee’.
This morning as we drove to the village of Santa the meter was reading 35degs and it was hot! Soon we arrived at the home of Sister Marioara Patcas. As I opened the gate numerous lines of washing softly blowing in the wind greeted me; but then this is a family of thirteen children. Sister Marioara and her children attend the local Pentecostal church. A few months ago, her husband contracted a rare virus in the meat factory where he was employed, causing brain paralysis. This precious sister smiled as she spoke of her husband and his Home Call all to glory. Her children range from seven to twenty-four and work the land in order to live. The older girls were eager to introduce me to their younger siblings. I passed one cow where two little girls were carrying milk to the kitchen where another little girl was busy making cheese; my journey brought me to three little heads who seemed to pop up from nowhere as they joyfully collected eggs from their hens; ‘Do you think you will collect fourteen today?’ I asked. Still more little heads appeared this time picking green beans from the vegetable plot for Mama to prepare soup for tea. Me thought: Milk and eggs for breakfast; soup and potatoes for dinner and all from their own hand. The family wanted to plant Strawberries to sell at market also and the Lord met this need. Indeed, the lovely things of life are quietness and gentleness, and this family refreshed my heart with the love they have one for the other. Four of the girls have just completed the Golden Needle Course in Casa Grace and proudly displayed their dresses and skirts. Even in the tumult of recent months there was peace. How blessed though the love of ladies in Londonderry a sewing machine has place of honour in this home. I thought of the verse in 1 Corinthians 3: 9 ‘God’s tilled land’ and thought today I visited ‘God’s Farm’.
We briefly called at the home of the Lingurar family to be introduced to their new baby girl of ten days old. Samuel (11) works very hard maintaining the ground for his mother, he enjoys building and fixing the wiring to ensure the hens do not take a walk on the busy road, ending up on a neighbours table! In earlier blogs I shared with you this family were at risk also of losing their home – God proved he was the God of the impossible; there is now no risk of eviction. As I think of recent families Sister Neli wrote to me about: Podila, Cir; Badea; Dobai; Druta to name but a few; different families, different needs, I feel privileged I am part of the strings in one of God’s instruments.
My final Wednesday (this trip) and I eagerly made my way to the Orphanage Centre. My friend Dora was waiting for me on the balcony with Isabella eager to play. I so love my time alone with my babies and was encouraged during this mission trip with the possibility of two of my beloved little girls being fostered. Adam, in the USA, who never leaves my heart, is progressing but still attached to all the machines. Each day a therapist works to make him more independent of them. He is a brave little warrior. Could I ever have imagined the journey this little one would take. Adam is a miracle of God’s grace and mercy. My heart is drawn to the abandoned, orphaned, down syndrome children as I find myself becoming involved at a deeper level, wanting to learn, to know so much more. I suppose it is not so much what we have or possess but it is more how much do we give back to the Lord in our service no matter how insignificant?
‘Instead of the dry land, springs of water! Instead of heaviness, the garment of praise! Instead of the thorn, the fir tree! Instead of the brier, the myrtle tree! Instead of ashes, beauty!
Methinks how much have I learned from the difficulties I have faced these past three weeks? Some whose life has been filled with nothing but hard places but who have continued to travel their personal road of faith in the one who can replace the shade with the sunshine of his face. ‘Sister Shirley, we are here’, the voice of Monika brought me back to the reality of the day. Laughter filled the small hallway as John whose life has been dedicated to his beloved daughter Dora extended his hand of friendship. John has lived a life of unwavering faith in God. The winds of change blew only sadness as Dora is locked within her body; unable to wash, dress, walk, feed herself, her father carries her lovingly in his arms to the small kitchen table where Dora spends her days. ‘Guess Who’ I called; ‘My Dora’ was waiting.
Although in her mid-thirties she has the mind of a child of five; she kissed and hugged in her childlike manner until I could hardly breathe. ‘I love you Sister Shirley but you did not come for my birthday in March’ – ‘I’m sorry, but I am here now and Auntie Barbara has sent you lots of gifts’. As Dora, anxious to see her special treats waited patiently, John told me he and Dora prayed for Dr. Moore every morning; how he wondered in his own thoughts would we ever return? We shared thoughts from the Apostle Paul’s experience how the words of personal promise during his trial became precious. John is a special man with a special task and has known the joy of personal interludes of blessing. All to soon it was time to leave but I will make the journey across town in October to see her. She will always be ‘My Dora’ waiting at her tiny kitchen table, this is her special place, her palace.
The village of Tileayd was quite an experience for Mrs. Shirley this morning. I was warmly greeted by horses, dogs, goats, one-day old chicks fluttering all around me. Taking a deep breath, I continued to bravely walk on. Mihalia rushed towards me and ushered me into the one room she shares with her three daughters: Bianca, Laura and Alina. Mihalia has no husband, no home and is so thankful to her mother for this one room accommodation. Her simplicity of love caused tears to flow down my face as I asked: ‘What is your greatest need just now?’ She smiled, taking my hand and said: ‘God bless you for our food; food is all we ask’. Her oldest daughter, Bianca is suffering from a renal tumour and is very sick. Her beautiful dark eyes pierced my heart, there was no evidence of fear walking this unfamiliar road of uncertainty. We talked for what seems hours and soon it was time to leave through the archways of amazing vines; sadly they would not be ripened until August. Breakfast for ‘The Moore’s on Mission Trips consists of Romanian honey on toast with juicy Romanian grapes. A picture of what will be waiting when we return.
Dami is an amazing young boy of fourteen, recently diagnosed with a brain tumour which is continuing to spread; his sight is completely gone. A painful process for this family as they watch their young son deteriorate. Dami wanted to be baptised with his mother as he said he didn’t want to meet Jesus without being baptised. He hugged me warmly as since losing his sight this is his only form of greeting. They are a very close family who attend the local Hungarian Baptist Church; they feel the nearness of the Lord and see the rainbow even in the thunderstorm.
Today a beautiful little girl of four lies ill in Timisoara hospital. The only daughter of a young couple and their need is great. Raluka suffers from Sarcoma which is a rare form of cancer. Some patients may be cured if the main tumour is removed by surgery. Already this little darling has undergone surgery removing her two ribs and part of her lungs. Whisper ‘Raluka’ tonight in prayer. Her parents are heart broken.
Soon it will be time to travel to Cluj where I will meet with my friend Violeta Faragau, together we will visit a new outreach for orphans namely ‘THE FARM’. I will visit first and then write about this work. Our second stop will be Casa Filip, a resource centre for those struggling with cancer coming to Cluj Napoca for treatment. The house is in memory of Pastor Filip Faragau, called home 04 August, 2016. Sister Gabi from Iochebed in Suceava will spend the evening with me updating me on the work and progress of our new Pro-Life Project ‘Thank You for Letting Me Live’. The Lord has provided £3,000 to purchase dried milk for the remainder of 2019. We continue to reach with outstretched hands those who do not know the touch of love or care.
These have been emotional days for me personally, yet special days. In my mind I am still travelling the road to Cighid. I cannot wipe the memory from my mind, I cannot forget the look of longing, the hand outstretched for someone to hold or even care. Each evening I pass through those hoovering locked gates and always end up asking myself the same question: ‘Have I not sent thee?’ With unwavering faith in a God who never fails I launch a programme for the fifty adult orphans in Cighid. They urgently require bedding, special items of clothing, boots, slippers. £50 per orphan will ensure all fifty will be warm this Romanian winter. I feel as if my ‘nest’ has been stirred; I want to help rebuild these lives of destruction who cannot plan for the future; they live only in the day of an unknown tomorrow. They did not choose their lot in life but we can bring life to them as we stretch out our hand in love assuring them they are not deserted. Although bereft of beauty and acceptance they must not be bereft of our love.
‘Fallen threads I will not search for, I will weave’ (George MacDonald)
Shirley, June 28, 2019.