Friday, June 8, 2012

A cup of cold water

Luljeta had her first doctor's appointment for the reconstruction of her face and eye. We waited hours for the doctor who was delayed in an operation. When he finally was able to see patients things got a little out of hand. Everyone wanted to be first and complained about the wait. An older Albanian man, who had waited longer than us, was furious. He complained to the nurse, the aid, and everyone in the waiting room. When his yelling hit an all time high, the Greek director came storming out of the exam room without his translator. He was livid! The Albanian man started in on him! Bad choice! Even though he could not understand Albanian, the Greek director was not too happy to be yelled at by this elderly Albanian man. So, he started talking to the man in Greek. I thought he had something important to say so I offered to be a translator. So, he switched to English. "I can see that you are an arrogant and obnoxious man! There is very little I can do to make your appointment come any sooner. Your attitude is wrong and you may be asked to leave if you continue." Wow. How do I translate that! UGH! Everyone in the room could tell in Greek or English he was not a happy camper. I spoke softly and gently to the Albanian with my hand patting his arm and said, "Don't be upset, we will all see the doctor soon. It will be ok. Don't worry. We will all wait here together. If you keep upsetting the director you will have to leave and not get the treatment you need. Please calm down." The Greek thanked me profusely and the Albanian looked a little timid. Everyone in the room was stressed and upset. I looked around thinking how can I defuse this situation. I saw in the corner behind a desk a water dispenser ... and the idea hit me. So I went behind the desk and started filling up water cups. I gave 'hot head' Albanian the first glass and then everyone else in the room. I had to 'sell' the water as everyone was embarrassed at first. 'It is good water, nice and cold! I know you are thirsty after sitting here for hours..." I then filled up more and more cups and worked the hall and the entrance area. I even found some takers among the nurses and staff. The room changed, people started laughing, talking, joking. The entire mood changed. I left the area for a minute to give Norm some water and as I handed it to him the verse came to mind - 'A cup of cold water in my (Jesus) name'. Ahhh. It hit me. I could not heal their scared body or deformed faces. I could not really comfort them in their enormous trials they had to face. A baby with a eye problem, a teenage girl with a large scar across her check, and my precious Lule with her deformed face, eye and head. I can't do much, but I can offer a cup of water. I found the old man later after his appointment and asked how it went. He was all smiles and said it was great. I said, 'God Bless you!' and he smiled sincerely. My heart is so full today as I look back and see how little I am and big God is! He has miracle water! Living water! Oh that people would receive it, oh that we would give it with love!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Facing Tragedy

I want you to know about a precious friend of mine named Lule. Her name means 'flower'. She brightens every room she enters. And yet, her life is surely not without trials. She was born with a tumor on her face and as she grew, it grew. Her parents were afraid of hospitals and doctors during communism, so they did nothing. The tumor continued to grow. Lule married a man from her village and they had 2 boys, Klevi and Ricu. The tumor grew rapidly during her pregnancies. It was time to remove it. As the doctor removed the tumor her right eye sunk back into her skull and the right side of her face and head were severely deformed. Now her eye can no longer see since it is covered with bone and skin and many of the nerves in her face were damaged in the operation. She wears sunglasses and her hair over the right side of her face so people do not gasp when they see her. She works long hours at a sweat shop sewing cuffs on pants 6 days a week. She said to me recently, "I use to think how wonderful it would be if for 5 minutes my face would be normal and I could look into the mirror and see myself. I would take a lot of pictures and keep them forever. Then, I could go back to looking like I do now, that would be OK. Just so I could have 5 minutes to be normal!" Two years ago I asked prayer for Lule's husband, Besim, that he would stop drinking. He had become a alcoholic and was abusive. Our prayers were answered! Besim stopped drinking. He would not drink even a sip! Their home life changed and things were really improving. Through the miracle of her husband giving up alcohol, Lule trusted in Christ. Many of you rejoiced with us in her decision! Jobs in Albania are very difficult to find. In addition, Besim had lost an eye, so he was handicapped. People with disabilities are not readily accepted in Albania. Besim could only find work in Greece cutting down trees. Two months ago, Jan 24, 2012, his chain saw slipped and severely severed his leg. He was working in the woods alone so there was no one there to help him. He fell there in the snow, and his body was found 2 days later. We do not know if he ever trusted the Lord as Savior. We are hoping that in those last moment of his life he called out to Christ. We will not know till we get to Heaven. It is hard to understand this type of suffering. In fact, I can not understand it. I am not going to try. I am just going to give it to God who is in charge. I am going to love my friend and hold her up in prayer. I am going to tell people her story. I am going to raise awareness for those widows and fatherless children whose lives touch me... and I hope in turn can touch you. I am going to ask you, Can you help? Can you pray? Can you give? We often invest in something for the future. You can invest in the lives of two little boys and their mom! I know that many people can not give funds, but can you pray that someone will? Can you pray that Lule could have plastic surgery? Could you pray that Lule and the boys will stay faithful to God? What an opportunity you have before you! It is so worth it!