Towards the end of the summer of 2013 three of the Operation Mobilization team members in Sheki decided to permanently return to their home countries. The American couple and Korean single lady were well adapted to the Sheki community and culture, and it was a great loss to us personally and the rest of the OM team.
I started to realize that the uncertainty of the future of the Operation Mercy operations and the possibility of a move of the office of the Operation Mobilization Field Leader to the Republic of Georgia was taking its toll on the emotional state of the Operation Mercy personnel, volunteers, and the Operation Mobilization team in the Caucasus.
Whilst some team members already permanently returned to their home countries, others were considering their options too. Uncertainty and instability spread like a cancer, and it was impossible to recruit new people to come and serve in the Caucasus in that climate. I was feeling the pressure to give direction as Country Director of Operation Mercy and Field Leader of Operation Mobilization. I was feeling betrayed by the leadership of Operation Mobilization who did not prepare us for all these challenges and left us with the mess. I struggled to get clarity in my own mind and now I had to give direction and lead the team to a better place. To me the best decision to take, was to close the Operation Mercy office in Baku, and to move the office of the Operation Mobilization Field Leader to Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. As a facilitative leader I was communicating the facts of the challenges before us, making the choices and the consequences of each choice as clear as possible. I belief in processes and tried to guide the individuals to come to their own conclusions, hoping that it will lead to a corporate decision on the preferred future they want.
During this time, we became aware of a crisis at home. My fathers’ health took a sudden turn for the worst. At the end of August, he was formally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The aggressive tumour was situated at the head of the pancreas making it very difficult for surgery. During the first half of September, he developed Hepatitis like symptoms. His skin and eyes turned to an orange colour and his skin was itching too. He declined hospitalization and requested to stay at home. He was celebrating his 75th birthday on the 17th of September 2013 and I decided to fly home to be there on his birthday. I was able to claim the cost of the flight from the Medical Aid Group Scheme we were subscribed too as Operation Mobilization personnel.
I was not prepared for the picture I saw when I arrived at home. He was a mere shadow of the man I greeted less that 10 months ago. I instinctively realized that a full recovery would take a miracle and that we should prepare to make his last days as bearable as possible. He was asking for Magda, and I saw that my mom was taking strain as the primary carer. It would be great for all of us to have Magda there too. After a few calls we learnt that the Medical Aid Group Scheme will cover her cost too in the circumstances, and she arrived shortly after his birthday.
Her presence had an immediate impact and she advised us on buying a mattress to prevent bed sores, and how to make his bed in a way that we could easily turn him. He was very weak and needed more and more assistance as the days went by. He had no appetite and was struggling to keep anything down.
We started to invite family and friends to come and visit him in the evenings. We would read scripture and, sing choruses that he loved. My siblings and I took turns to sit with him and we were able to share our hearts with him as we prepared for the worst. He was never a man of many words and in this time, he hardly spoke a word, but he listened.
Magda and I took turns to stay with him. My mom and I took care of him during the day and Magda was staying with him during the nights. On the morning of the 1st of October, my mom and I had just finished his morning routine and he was comfortable. The doorbell rang and my mother went out to open the door. I walked out and saw that it was a longstanding friend of my parents who came to visit us. Magda was resting after her night shift. I went back into the room where my father was to tell him that there was a visitor. When I bent over him, I immediately sensed that something was different. I wasn’t sure and I called Magda into the room. When she came, she confirmed that he had passed on.
I turned around to leave the room and to call my mom, but suddenly my legs was like jelly. My mouth was dry, and I could hardly speak. Before I could leave the room a friend of mine entered the room. I did not know where he came from and when he arrived. He hugged me and I could not resist the tears any longer.
It all went down very fast. From the day he was formerly diagnosed to the day of his passing was less than three months. We were sad but the thought that he was a follower of Jesus comforted us in the days to come.
It was time for me and Magda to return to the Caucasus. It was hard to say good-bye and to leave my mother, but duty called, and we had some unfinished business to attend to!