We arrived in Bravicea just before lunch with our minds and hearts ready to serve the Lord. We planned for this outreach to be different, we were accompanied by a team who wanted to encourage and share the Gospel with as many people as possible. We did not waste any time in doing so, just after lunch, we headed out for two family visits. The first family was a husband and wife who were believers and caregivers for ten children, we came to encourage, but we were encouraged instead. We left their home and continued our walk through the village.
We arrived at the next gate, as we entered we were meet by an older gentleman smiling as he greeted us. His wife was in the house cooking walnuts to make jam. This always amazes me, you never know what is on the other side of the gate and Mrs. Vera’s house was no different. As we passed through the gate it was much like you had walked into heaven. You were greeted with roses of all colors on your left and on the right, there were wildflowers of all kinds. As you continued down the narrow but well-defined path passing the winter house and coming to the entrance of the summer house. There she was standing at the stove cooking, she turned out the light on the stove and walked over to greet us there on the porch. She said my name is Vera, I am a believer and the good Lord takes care of me. As I stood there all you could see was this beautiful smile, I think for the first time in my life I saw what it looked like for a heart to smile. She was happy and thankful we came to visit, she even said: “You should have called me and I would have prepared some food for you”. We said no, we wanted to come to see and visit with you. We continued down the path passing the summer house to an area where the ground was worn and smooth from all the days past as they talked and fellowshipped with friends and family. The area covered by a makeshift roof that protected you from the sun, there was a small table surrounded by four benches and many stools here and there. It looked like a place you would call home, from the table you could look down into the garden that was a sight in itself. She brought out cookies and the baked walnuts for us to enjoy as we found our spot around this theater table where life was lived. We were surrounded by so much nature. Her husband returned from the cellar with compote but she wasn’t pleased with what he brought and ask him to return and to bring only the best for this day was special. She then took the cups from the kitchen filling each of ours with this juice and offering the cookies and jam to us. She said welcome to her table, this is where we have breakfast together every morning. I thought to myself a lot more time than just breakfast is spent under this old tree. There was a fly swatter within reach along with a slingshot to keep cats out of the garden, this is a place you would call home.
As we all drank the juice and ate the cookies we each shared with Mrs. Vera and her husband our names, where we were from and a little about ourselves. She was overwhelmed that so many people came to visit her that day. She said again she would have cooked if she had known we were coming but we reassured her we were good and her hospitality was the best. Then she began to tell us her story, she said I am 69 years old and I have stage four breast cancer and it is terminal. Then she said do not be sad for I am a believer in the Lord and He will take care of me. She told us she still has some treatments but not so many now, they live in the city in winter and return to this house in the village where she grew up for the spring and summer. No matter how defined I write I cannot explain to you this level of comfort this lady displayed, she was dying but she was okay with that.
As we continued to talk with her, we tried to speak encouragement into her life, but she was the one encouraging us for the Lord had placed her in our path on that first day to set the emotional pace for all the days to come during this outreach. We talked about life and their past, her spirit was unlike anything I had ever seen. Then as I turned away from the table just behind me was Michael, he too had stepped away caught up in some emotions and I looked into his eyes with tears falling down his cheeks he asks how can she be so strong to carry on each day? For it is about faith, a strong faith, not like any I have sent before. I mean she was so emotionally positive you would have never known she was dying of cancer. She lived 1 John 5:5 to the fullest.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:5
As our time ended she wanted us to see the garden, almost as if she knew this was the last year she would see it. I must say it was some garden. Mary was happy because Mrs. Vera said to her pick a large bowl of strawberries. There were also many other things, like snap peas, cherries, choke berries, apricots to name a few. Then we all gathered around and prayed over Mrs. Vera. She thanked us for the food parcel and waved goodbye for what might have been the final time as we exited through the gate to the street. I realized that day the Lord has blessed me, but I want to live like Mrs. Vera.
In the days ahead as a family, we talked about Mrs. Vera. I even looked up the meaning of the name Vera, and was surprised by what I found out. According to Wikipedia, Vera is an old Russian name meaning Faith, how fitting is that. This lady named Vera will forever be etched in my mind and on my heart. I do not think I will ever see a smile again like hers. She believes and trusts in the Lord like no one else. She may not have realized how much her example impacted my life. Please keep her in your prayers as she finishes this life. Just as Hebrews 12:1 says, run the race with endurance and keep your eyes focused on Jesus, Mrs. Vera lives this out each and every day, she is still pressing on for the prize ahead of her. Be blessed Mrs. Vera for you blessed me.