* These names have been changed
On December 23rd and 24th Tim, Anca, Lucretia and I drove out to the senior/convalescent homes we regularly visit for our annual Christmas outreach. Thanks so much to all of you who prayed. God answered in so many ways. There were so few of us to do the shopping, assemble the gifts and cards and to carry out the actual outreach, that I knew I personally was going to have to do a LOT, and that if any of us got sick on those days it could be a real bummer, but I felt God’s hand of blessing on every single phase, from the keeping of us healthy, to the finding of attractive socks and ornaments and yummy treats for gifts to the assembling of the packages.
Something really on my heart was to attach gospel scriptures to every gift, so that if all other attempts to communicate the gospel failed, there would at least be a little tiny bit of His Word left behind in the room. But I wasn’t sure how to make them attractive, so they wouldn’t just get overlooked. And there were only a couple of days left to do it and right then my computer decided to have unresolvable conflicts with my outdated version of Word, so that I couldn’t print ANYTHING. But God gave the idea of using recycled Christmas cards and artistically hand lettering the verses in Romanian. That’s where Tim’s artistic gifts really came in handy. I could never have done it without him. And when we ran out of cards, Anca filled our empty hands with more from her supply. So with God’s blessing, the gifts were finally ready.
Then it was such great news to find out Anca was going to have the day off and that she was willing to bring her guitar and do some carols. Also, God blessed us with great weather for the drive out to the homes. No snow, sleet, ice or fog! And on the mornings of ministry, despite the fact that we had no big caroling choir like in the past, I felt so much joy and contentment in Christ. I was sure that God was going to make Himself known.
And what can I share of the results? It may sound strange but my warmest memory from elderly home number one was the huge hug I got from Susana*, the social worker in charge as she thanked us for the whole year of visits. That so touched me. Her sincere appreciation was so unusual from someone in authority that I felt it had to be the result of God doing something special in her heart.
From home number two the sweetest moment for me was when Daniel* liked the song “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” so much that he got up and grabbed a song sheet and began singing with us. Hey, with a three person choir, we can’t be picky! But seriously, it was like there was something in the song calling to him that he didn’t quite understand, something that provoked a longing, and the only way he knew to respond to it was to try to sing the song with us.
At both homes, of course, our reception was mixed, as is normal in a sin-dominated world. Elvira* and Marina*, of course were really happy we came. They attached their Christmas verses to the refrigerator in a place of honor and Marina hung her ornament on her pajama button in lieu of a Christmas tree. Teodora* just clung to us and wouldn’t let go. Some of the men were also very pleased to see us. Ionel* followed Tim and Anca from room to room as they caroled shooting questions at them about Caesar Augustus. In Iosif* and Dana’s* room we sang an Orthodox carol and Iosif wept while Dana crossed herself. But one lady grumbled that she was too tired to hear carols and then performed disco dance movements to mock us until we finished singing. Another pair used our precious visit time to express for the umpteenth time the same old grievances against the management. There were also a couple of other distressing conversations, revealing the depth of spiritual darkness in which many of the residents lie.
But not even those things could shadow my joy. After all, that is why Christ came—to shine His light on those who lie in darkness. That’s who we ALL were until His light mercifully shone on us. So as I heard Anca and Tim’s voices echoing down the halls singing, “Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee,” my heart sang “Amen!” Truly Lord Jesus, “By Thine own eternal Spirit, rule in all our hearts alone; by Thine all-sufficient merit, raise us to Thy glorious throne.”