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October 8, 2014 / lachie47

2005 Newsletter

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 “He who loses gold or silver can find more to replace it, but he who loses time cannot find more” Anonymous yet profound words! It only seems like yesterday when I was preparing the 2004 Newsletter, and on looking back over the last year so much is left undone. However, like a Christian of old, my prayer is “O Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone.” The news on the ‘Aid’ front has been dominated by the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami and quite rightly so. However, this concentrated focus tends to detract from the continuing needs in other parts of the World where magnitude of scale and world impact may not be of the same proportions but nevertheless are no less urgent!

Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007 appears to be still on the track. I still find it very difficult to understand how they will meet all the changes that are required for an entry into the union. There has to be some miraculous intervention to implement change not least in the corruption stakes, which have been openly admitted by Romanian authorities. There is no doubt that much political posturing will be involved and, while politics is not part of our remit as a Christian Organisation, Romanian politics control all we try to do and we ought not to ignore the effects but continue to pray for Divine intervention.

Leaders of all nations, including our own, who, having put themselves forward and been elected into positions of responsibility, have hung a millstone around their necks and the necks of their people if they are not honest and truthful in all their dealings before God and those whom they serve. God’s word warns about the consequences of bad leadership.

For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed.

Isa 9:16

Spring 2004 My first 2004 visit to Romania was in late February and one filled with many encouragements despite the sad and desperate situation facing so many people in that country. While the weather was very cold there was very little snow but when you see the miserable living conditions faced by so many it is difficult not to let your heart rule your head! We are only scratching the surface but, that is what our Lord wants us to do faithfully and He will do the rest. I cannot help but think that the main purpose of that well recorded miracle of the “loaves and the fishes” (Matthew 14:16-21) is to encourage us in His service.

Hospice Perspective Medicale (HPM) in Cluj, was the major beneficiary of our support on this visit and I was privileged to accompany two of the nurses as they visited some of the patients who were receiving care. Homecare and Palliative Care are very new services in Romania, all run by charities and still struggling for recognition by the Health Authorities. Some sterling work has been done in persuading the health authorities of the value of this work and promises have been made that ‘substantial financial support’ will be given in 2005! Meanwhile most of those who receive care rely on charity for all their care and support and many have a short life expectancy. Meeting their needs in extreme circumstances and with dignity is challenging yet highly rewarding! A little letter from Romania Six years ago a very good friend asked me if I would like to work as nurse in a home care foundation specialising in palliative care so I started out of curiosity. However, after a few months I became almost addicted to this work because I saw so many persons who needed care, not necessarily treatment just care! In my country cancer is the main illness, and the hospitals are too poor to take care of those patients who are terminally ill and who need specialist care. But what is the strange thing in all of this story? It was necessary for a stranger to come into my country and open our eyes to the many great things we can do with little money but with a heart open to God and to others. That person is my friend Lachie MacLeod founder of the Scottish foundation Something for Romania.

For a long time he supported my colleagues and me with materials which were needed in home care. But what is extraordinary he is now helping us by doing fund-raising and in this way we can pay the staff who work for Hospice Perspective Medicale in palliative care. He supports us with money for training courses and still help us with money for materials. However, more importantly, try to imagine that we started with one nurse and one doctor and now we are 4 nurses and many more volunteers such as nurses, medical students, physiotherapist and philologist. Isn’t that great? I think so anyway!

Please try to remember us in your prayers and we’ll pray also for you. God bless you and all your help for us.( I hope it is not too late for my message but I have been very busy).

Love to everybody,




Profile Simona Pop, a fully trained nurse is married to Christie and they have two young daughters Andrea and Ana. I have known Simona for many years having met her for the first time in the Cluj hospital which I have been supporting since 1991 and where she works on a surgical ward. Something for Romania funded a visit to Scotland for Simona in 1997 when she took part in several practical and theoretical training modules in Glasgow hospitals. When I became involved with homecare in Romania in 1998 Simona came to work for the Foundation I then supported, as a part-time nurse. Simona’s real talents were soon recognised and I felt that she was better suited to working with an organisation which provided palliative care together with home-care, so she was recruited, still part-time, by HPM where she now works as their chief nurse. Among all her other responsibilities Simona is also one of the trainers for palliative care in Cluj. Simona’s Christian beliefs and caring attitude make her an invaluable team leader and mentor to those who show aptitude for the exacting work of caring for those who are terminally ill. Fergie’s Fringe You might already have read something about the little grey Fergie tractor (shown in the photograph), which was given to me by a dear lady from Kilmarnock, who thought it might be suitable for use in Romania. Unfortunately that was not to be but it has been put to good use in fundraising. Fergie is far travelled, having run the gauntlet from John O’Groats to Lands end in 1999 and sailed the seas in 2002 while visiting 18 Scottish Islands via 22 ferry crossings. Both these trips were very well sponsored and a total of £26,500 or so thanks to the generosity of many. Last year however saw Fergie’s most challenging trip so far, a circumnavigation of the coastline of Scotland! What started off as a fundraising trip also became a challenge to the Longest Tractor Journey in the World which at that time was just over 3200 miles. My subsequent failure to beat the World record is of no consequence, as the trip became a challenge in many other ways! That God was watching over man and machine, despite the many setbacks, was clearly evident.

The principle reasons for the drive i.e. to raise awareness of the ongoing situation facing thousands of poor people in Romania and to raise funds were, without doubt realised. To date, £14,700 has been banked and around £300 each month in standing orders has been pledged as a result of the venture. Over a period of five wet and cold weeks Fergie and I were to cover 1830 miles at an average speed of 12MPH up hill and down dale. As Fergie is not fitted with a cab I specifically selected the months of May and June for the trip hoping that I would get good dry, warm weather! Having begun planning six months earlier to get a long-range forecast would have required a prophet and not a weatherman! I simply got wet. Very wet!

On Monday 17th May, Alastair MacDonald JP; MBE The Provost of West Dunbartonshire, waved me off from the Beardmore Hotel and, after an excellent lunch provided for my guests, courtesy of the Hotel, my team and I carried out final preparations for an epic journey, working well into the night to make sure Fergie was ready for an early start.

About 6.30am the following day Fergie plus trailer and I were off on a dry but fresh morning! That was to change! By the afternoon it was pouring and for six or seven hours I was in the ‘saddle’ soaked to the skin and shivering despite my waterproofs! This unfortunately was only a taste of what was to come. Over the next five weeks while I was being assaulted almost every day by wind driven rain, which found it’s way through my best wet weather gear, I at times wondered why I was putting myself through it all. However, a mental picture of the never-ending misery facing thousands of those whom I strive to help I was constantly reminded that they could not look forward to a dry change of clothing or a hot meal at the end of the day! I could!

I had arranged slide presentations at 23 venues en route and the first one, in Dunoon was attended by 17 folk from around the peninsula and the ladies present provided a veritable feast afterwards. Attendances at the various venues from then on varied from 2 to 60 people!

There were many trials and tribulations but the most significant of these was a major breakdown in Ardnamurchan in Argyll-shire on Tuesday 25th May, my eighth day on the road. An engine strip down next day revealed a damaged piston! Where does one get a piston for a 1953 vintage tractor in a couple of days? I decided then that the tractor drive would have to be abandoned and Fergie would require transportation home! The programmed slide presentations around Scotland would go ahead as planned but this meant that the team was no longer required. Neil Fraser, an ex colleague, who had just joined us the previous day went home that afternoon, most likely relieved to get away! LandRover Discovery, caravan, Alex Campbell and I went to Broadford where the scheduled slide presentation went ahead as planned. I was greatly encouraged by the support shown there and in particular my meeting with two complete strangers. A lady and her neice, both warm, praying Christians from Bonnybridge, who were in Skye on holiday, attended the slide presentation and left a substantial donation with a promise of prayer support. These two dear ladies and I are now firm friends in Christ Jesus. Nothing happens without His over-ruling presence!

After worship and prayer Alex and I settled down to try and get some rest. After a sleepless night, with pistons and tractors swimming around in my head Thursday morning (day 10) dawned with me having thoughts of trying to repair Fergie and continuing the tour. With no presentation that night and Gairloch scheduled for the following night, a small window of hope was available. If it were possible to get a piston could I repair Fergie and get to Gairloch in time for the presentation? A bold undertaking but if this is God’s work……….?

That morning, my daily Bible reading was from Isaiah 41 and the words of verse 13 “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” made my mind up. What more encouragement was required? If this was God’s work He would supply all that was necessary to get Fergie up and running! By mid morning and many frantic phone calls a piston was located in Bishopton, which was delivered to Ardgour that afternoon by faithful Galt Transport, Dumbarton. Alex & I returned to Acharachle where Fergie was stabled and prepared it for transplant! I then took Alex, who was heading homewards, to Ardgour and with the precious piston now in my possession I headed back to Acharachle. By 1100pm the engine was partially rebuilt and at 500am next day (day 11) I was back at the tools and, by mid-day Fergie was up and running!

However all this did not happen without God’s providential intervention! Shortly before Fergie broke down I met Richard Watters, the then owner of Loch Shiel Garage in Acharacle, who was out on another recovery job. We spoke briefly and Richard gave me his business card, which was to become a lifeline. Within the hour Fergie had developed an ominous rattle and I was calling on Richard for his professional help.

Richard, voluntarily and without charge, recovered Fergie and took it to his premises, a distance of some 60 miles return. Not only that but he gave me a key to his workshop and full use of his tools and equipment. This reminded me once again of God’s word, in particular Psalm 105 v 17 “ he sent a man before them.” This was a reference to Joseph who had been sent to Egypt by God as a forerunner for the Children of Israel. Richard was sent by God as a forerunner to help me!

With much juggling and help from two volunteers I managed to get the LandRover Discovery, Fergie and trailer to the Mallaig-Skye on Friday afternoon in time to take the Discovery and caravan onto Gairloch for that evenings presentation. My sister Rachel took me back to Skye that evening and on Saturday I took Fergie and trailer, through torrential rain, to Gairloch where I stayed with Rev. Derek and Arleen Morrison. Here I was treated to amazing warmth and hospitality, just like being at home, where I was able to relax after the last few action packed weeks! I left there on Monday 31st May and sadly that was the last time I saw darling Arleen who so tragically passed away in November – the victim of an aggressive cancer. Please remember Derek and his children Kirsty, Calum and Emma in prayer, and also the extended family while they all try to come to terms with their heartrending loss.

I was now back on schedule and the planned program was maintained, without too many hitches, from then onwards, despite very bad weather.

Disappointments and encouragements were the order of the next few weeks. The poor turn out at some of the venues was discouraging but the many gestures of great kindness and hospitality extended to my team and I, by so many whom we were privileged to meet on the way, was very uplifting. There were far too many breakfasts, lunches and dinners to name all the providers but their selfless kindness and hospitality is not forgotten! They were a clear indication that God’s work is important and should never go un-noticed!

After travelling round Scotland for five weeks, and a few wet days at the Royal Highland Show, courtesy of Marshalls of Aberdeen, who gave me a pitch on their stand, a successful and action packed Fergie’s Fringe was brought to an end.

This is only a brief synopsis of what turned out to be an odyssey of extraordinary experiences and meetings with wonderful people whose names are to numerous to mention. ( Matthew 10 v 42)

Finally, it is testimony to a faithful God and His dealings with us as individuals. All too often we go our own way and if we do not respond to God’s gentle chastening and get back on track He will use all kinds of Providences to achieve His purpose. This was certainly my experience throughout the trip and I was very much aware of God’s presence along the way and why not for we read in Scripture “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ Hebrews 13.5. Plans So many demands are being made on existing personnel that an immediate increase in care staff is vital. Other areas of the country are without any kind of services whatsoever and I have had a plea for help from a church in the north of the Country which is trying to set up basic homecare, as none currently exists! Regular income by Standing Order is steadily growing, enabling us to increase funding to our partners at the sharp end with additional financial support, help for the church group could be a reality!

To die in pain without medical or spiritual support and dignity almost reduces our fellow beings to the status of an animal. The lady in the picture who is from an ethnic family would, because of that, be in an impossible situation. Only through the providence of God has she fallen into the HPM net.

In my view, this is one of the most neglected areas of care in Romania and requires urgent remedy. Last year 140 patients were cared for by HPM and around 2,500 individual visits were undertaken by their nurses, 3 full time and 1 part-time. Theoretically, each nurse undertook an average of 2 visits daily, while in reality, one nurse might have made 6 visits and mostly by public transport travelling across the whole city of Cluj. We need lots more trained personnel – nurses, physiotherapists, social workers, etc so that quality holistic care can be provided to those in desperate need.

Your support for this work both financial and prayerful is greatly appreciated and, without either of these two ingredients it would be impossible to provide even basic care for those who, through poverty and a lack of properly funded healthcare end their days in pain and a sense of hopelessness!

I am available to give slide presentations to agroups or organisations who may be interested in hearing about the work. Distance is not a barrier!

Sincere Christian Greetings

Lachie MacLeod MBE

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