Friday, May 19 — Gardabani, Georgia — Day 2

On Day 2, our main activity was to visit the poor in the small town of Gardabani where there are a few Chaldean families. The town is a one hour drive from Tbilisi. The goal was to visit the people and bring Eucharist to the sick and elderly. We visited four families and started with a prayer at each one. We prayed an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be in Aramaic. The piety of the people was beautiful and their faith was inspiring. After allowing each person some time for silence and prayer, we asked them if they would like to receive intercessory prayer and a blessing. Each person responded affirmatively with great joy and excitement. We surrounded each person, with our arms stretched out, concluding each prayer with a blessing by Deacon Fadie or myself. On one occasion, we laid hands on a blind woman for a couple minutes and silently offered prayers. Upon giving her my blessing, I noticed tears coming down the woman’s eyes. She experienced the loving care and embrace of Jesus. She received Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; she received Jesus through this visit; she received Jesus through the blessing. She received the consoling presence of God her Father, and we were blessed to be an instrument of this Love.

I don’t know how often Father Benny is able to visit this little town. For many, it is difficult to leave the house and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. For the elderly and infirmed, there are moments where loneliness can take over. Calling to mind this woman’s tears, and I’m speculating, it was as if her tears were those tears which come from finally seeing the One whom you love so dearly.

Our blessing was to bring her Jesus. There is no greater gift.

For everyone back in America, let us not forget the elderly — the infirmed — the lonely. I remember walking into a hospital one time and a friend of mine was in an “isolation room” for 7 days due to severe pneumonia. During my visit, I was forced to put gloves and a mask on before entering the room. I saw his distress and discouragement because he just wasn’t getting better. He didn’t understand why the treatment wasn’t working, and he was starting to feel lonely and discouraged. When I was with him, we prayed together and God revealed something to me during the prayer. His room, as noted, was called the “isolation room”. I said to him “This is a lie! There is no such thing as an isolation room. God is always with you. God never leaves His children. No matter what!” And so with this revelation, I told my friend to repeat after me — “In the Name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that this room is an isolation room.” He believed the lie, but Jesus spoke Truth. Once we allowed Jesus to speak truth, he felt a great rush of freedom and peace; and he finally started progressing in his recovery.

When we visited these poor people in Gardabani, we brought the presence of God with us. My challenge to you is to bring the presence of God to all those you encounter throughout your day. The prophet Isaiah says “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing” (Isaiah 9:1–2).

Tomorrow, Day 3, we will spend more time in the capital city of Tbilisi and spend time with Father Benny. On Sunday, Day 4, we will celebrate High Mass with the community and hold a Q&A session with the youth before flying to Iraq Sunday night.

Thank God for this great gift. Keep praying for us as we continue to pray for you. God bless!

All for Jesus,

Deacon John