Calmly we look behind us, on joys and sorrows past
We know that all is mercy now, and shall be well at last
Calmly we look before us, we fear no future ill
Enough for safety and for peace, if Thou are with us still’. (Jane Borthwick)
I lay awake most of the night listening to the howling wind and driving rain. My heart was heavy and I found my ‘molehills’ became mountains. I lost count of the number of ‘cuppas’ I sipped as I sat quietly trying to ‘give’ my worries, my ‘cares’ over to the Lord. My restless and impatient spirit was bothering me; all I could see before me was darkness as I felt the uncertainty of broken hearts. 2022 is dwindling away and the baffling sense of loss overwhelms me. This morning, as I try to write, I am numb when I think of those who fear tomorrow as they gaze across a hopeless horizon. Their lives are as crushed leaves trodden into the ground. The work is difficult but in the words of Isaac Watts: ‘Love so amazing, so divine, shall have my soul, my life, my all’.
A young mother sits quietly in anguish, stripped of the joy her darling Vicky brought to this humble home during her short time on this earth. Never again will Vicky’s laughter be heard or the joy shared around the family table. Joy faded from this home as life faded from this beautiful fragile rose. Little Vicky was taken peacefully into the arms of the Saviour who said: ‘Suffer the little ones to come unto Me….’ Her young parents are in deep sorrow; they do not fully understand the reason ‘why’ but are comforted to know their precious little darling is free from suffering and that they will meet her again. My dear friend and colleague Estera called to assist with the funeral arrangements. Vicky’s little sister came running to her: ‘Vicky is not here; Jesus came and took her to heaven’. Her little brother sat quietly in the corner; playtime will never be the same.
Florin (Timotei’s brother) has commenced chemotherapy. His parents are distraught and find the situation difficult to accept or indeed, understand. Florin is aware of the side effects, making it much more difficult for him. In the calm of the night, I find myself thinking of my terminally ill little ones where for so many, a happy childhood is but a dream. I remember visiting the oncology wards; one visit would have broken a heart of stone. The Emanuel Hospice team need my help in sourcing an ‘Ear Pulse Oximeter’. Pulse Oximeters are used regularly on the fingers of our little ones to measure their oxygen levels. However, for the very young children (as for our precious Vicky) these do not always work; we would therefore require an Ear Pulse Oximeter. Pray for Brother Allan Hopper who is trying to source this equipment.
Little Nico (3) diagnosed with cancer is now receiving chemotherapy. His illness is progressing rapidly, all does not appear to be well. The consultant from the hospital in Cluj has advised his parents to give consideration to going abroad for investigative surgery. Another toddler of three unable to play and separated from the security of home.
Kevin is due to see his consultant this incoming week, when a decision will be made as to the next level of treatment. There is a difficult road ahead for Gabi and her young son who still miss a beloved husband and father.
Ella’s weight continues to plummet, her body is wasting away and she is extremely weak. Aurialian, her brother also suffers from this rare form of cancer. He too is frail; his hearing has almost gone and his weight is giving cause for concern. Angelina loves her children, but is deeply aware their illness is attacking their various vital organs.
Estera Writes: Thank you for holding us in your heart Sister Shirley. Please continue to prayer for us as a team, we really need it.
Maria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2021. During the past six months she has undergone chemotherapy. At the beginning of June, Maria went through a very serious surgery where her uterus and her peritoneum had to be removed. She is now waiting for the results of her biopsy and various tests. A decision will then be made regarding further chemotherapy.
Teodor suffers from cancer of his vocal cords. He is totally unaware of his diagnosis. His family have made a decision not to tell him in order to protect him. They feel if he knew the prognosis it would only add to his suffering. Teodor endures a high level of pain and does not understand why he always feels exhausted and his days are weary days. His beloved wife died recently from Covid and he is in deep mourning. He confesses that loneliness is his worst form of suffering. His son and family take care of him but since the death of his wife, life is meaningless. He is a lonely man.
Lidia is in the depth of sadness. Her beloved husband (Aurel) lost his battle to lung cancer this week. Her son died approximately two years ago in a motorcycle accident. She finds the grief of losing Aurel difficult, having not fully recovered from the death of her son. Life was never the same for her husband who never accepted the death of his son. The diagnosis of lung cancer developed soon after his son’s sudden death.
Thank you for always being so understanding and for your prayers for the Hospice team and patients. Our patients miss you.
So many lives filled with imperfection, trying to hide the scars of life behind a smile. They lack ‘assurance’; they question ‘trust’; they harbour ‘fear’. We hold out our hands in love, telling them of Calvary Love, the love that can change what they used to be.
Sorina (18) has a four-month baby boy – Narcis. The baby became very sick and had to be admitted to hospital. After many tests, it was confirmed the baby was suffering from a liver condition. Treatment was recommended, but now after two months there is no improvement. A referral has been made to a larger hospital in Lasi where he will be seen by a paediatrician. Sorina is very young and inexperienced and is very concerned about her precious baby boy.
Alexandra (24) gave birth to a baby girl four weeks ago. During the past two weeks it has been confirmed that Alexandra has an abnormality in one of her breasts. An echography was performed and the results showed a mastitis. Alexandra has commenced treatment but still suffers from pain and discomfort. She has been referred to another consultant in Cluj.
Amalia (36) has a boy of thirteen. Amalia came to our centre where we arranged scans which confirmed she is again pregnant. She has had two abortions in the past and confessed she does not want to give birth to a second child at her age. Amalia was made aware of our standards on abortion during our counselling sessions, where she shared her fears of going through a pregnancy. She left assuring our team she would give the matter consideration. Amalia has made a decision to keep her baby, as her son wishes to have a baby brother. May the Lord be with her throughout these months and cause her receive this gift of life with joy!
Ana, yes, our Ana (four little girls), has been reunited with her husband. Their oldest daughter has been diagnosed with cirrhosis. Ana prayed that if her little girl would be healed, she would surrender her life to Christ. The miracle happened and the child has been healed. Ana and her husband have surrendered their lives to the Lord and will be baptised together as a family, promising to turn their lives around in serving the Lord. We give thanks to the Lord for their decision and pray for consistency in their young lives as a family. When I think back, Ana was forsaken and cast aside, left without a home, four little girls freezing as they walked the icy streets of Suceava. I recall precious friends in Limavady donating finance for Firewood for tiny toes and fingers to be warm. Thanks to Calvary love, they do not live this way anymore.
I am blessed to serve with you and thank you for working with me. We are sisters together. Please continue to pray for our small team.
My precious friend Monika and I had a lengthy discussion on Friday. We listened to one another’s words of concern. I miss my times with my friends in Romania, but in being set apart for the past two years I have learned that to truly love the Lord, I must love my neighbour. Choices can be made, decisions reached, work accomplished, but if I do not truly love the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind, how can I love others? Last evening, I was asked by a friend: ‘Shirley, why do you do this work?’ The answer is simple and easily defined in one word – ‘LOVE’. John 13: 34, 35 ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’.
Our newest case study comprises of a father, mother and three children ranging from nineteen to nine years of age. The father has little or no memory of his childhood, having lost his mother as a young child; his adult life knows only trauma. We, as a team at Casa Grace are unsure of the circumstances but can identify he is filled with anxiety, fear and darkness; there are no happy toddler memories. The ability to face the outside world of employment seems quite impossible. The dark shadows of fear are real. Occasionally the family have frequented the Hungarian Baptist Church where Monika worships with her husband and two daughters. But it is a rare occasion.
We have been contacted by a member of staff responsible for teaching the youngest son (9). The little boy has noticeable delays in learning and would require and indeed benefit from the support of a specialist. We will proceed to move forward with enquiries. As an introduction, Monika has contacted the leader of the Hungarian B.C. Children’s Club and together they plan to help this young boy to slowly move forward. Slow steps of encouragement is all that is required to help him develop and identify his learning skills. The oldest child, a girl of nineteen, is extremely shy and suffers from a form of autism but has a genuine desire to learn. We plan to come alongside her to help her gain confidence in herself and accept her capabilities. The mother is totally unqualified but willing to work. She presently holds a cleaning position in a Kindergarten, functioning under the umbrella of the Reformed Church. They recently moved to an old property, located in a pleasant area of Romania which benefits from being within walking distance to schools etc. The house is in much need of repair; however, the family remain positive. We try to encourage them and tell them of the One who is and will be their strength in every circumstance of life. The monthly food and hygiene support from our Feeding Programme is essential for them, but more importantly, it is real evidence of God’s love for them as a family and that they matter to the Lord.
In Oradea, the effects of the war continue to hit; the blows are hard and unexpected. This month, every home and business received backdated electricity bills; the recalculated amount was four times higher than last year. It is difficult for the poor families to accept that each month the costs for food and hygiene items are rising. Since January, oil, pasta, flour, sugar has increased by 80% and still has not reached its limit. Smaller factories are forced to close, as the selling market and raw materials are severely affected owing to the war. Previously, I wrote to you regarding Ana from Stei, her two daughters never knew the comfort of a bed and how the Lord met the need through a brother and friend. Ana has been made redundant, as the small factory where she worked was forced to close. We are now trying to source alternative employment for Ana, otherwise she will be unable to provide food and clothing for her girls.
The students continue to attend classes, taking pride in their achievements and working toward Graduation Day. Dana and Stefan remain totally committed in training and in sourcing job opportunities. Their main aim is to instruct the students in the ways of the Lord.
The twilight fades for many marginalised children. Orphans without a home, disabled and down syndrome children receiving life-changing therapy. Abandoned babies, who do not know the love of a Mum, or a much needed ‘cuddle’. Dora is committed to build bridges of hope. Today, Brother Allan Hopper took another consignment of Pampers, Tena, baby wipes to the transport company travelling to Romania. To us these are basic items, yet totally unavailable in Romania. Will you build bridges with me?
Mariana waits for her appointment regarding further surgery and treatment. She is anxious yet tries to display a positive attitude. Her days are days of exhaustion and when all the seven children are tucked in bed Mariana is alone with her thoughts, trying to remain positive and hopeful. Her oldest child (Mariana) received high grades in her final exams. She must now decide her choice of High School. It is encouraging to see that she is motivated to learn as her desire is to become a doctor. The young pastor from another village is faithful in his visitation; as yet Mariana has not committed her life to the Lord.
The effects of the war are hitting hard. Before the current situation in Ukraine, the surrounding area of Poroskova barely existed, living in the depths of poverty where basics such as clean water were a luxury. Conditions are beyond words. Another trip is planned for early July when clothes, hygiene products, food will be taken to them. The team at Casa Grace have been sorting and packing boxes. ‘Give us this day, our daily bread’.
Monika writes: We are nearing the end of June and with the support of Tell Romania we are able to bring hope and light. We pray for our families to be saved. We are so thankful for all of you who are supporting them through the Feeding Programme, enabling them to have food and clean clothes and houses, as we seek to also show them the way to Him. God Bless You and Thank You.
Another month of pain that words alone could not describe. Disturbing situations and circumstances, bringing me many sleepless nights. The ‘facts’ written are real and these I hold in my heart with a prayer of thankfulness to the Lord for what He has given to me. We may not all be called to suffer where life has brought disappointment, betrayal and loss; where distressing and unexpected circumstances erupt, leaving a path of suffering with a trail of bitterness behind. The stormy seas of doubt have brought gale-force winds of hopelessness. Yet, hope is all they have, a hope that whispers softly; a hope that calms; a hope that can turn the raging tempest to a gentle wind of peace. Even in this broken world it is still possible to ‘Be Still’. As you read the contents, I invite you to take one of these needs, make it ‘your very own’. They need hope – They need you!
‘BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD; (Psalm 46: 10)
Shirley, June 27, 2022
42B Bernice Road, Co. Antrim. BT36 4QZ