Patrick met Rick soon after us arriving here in 2014. Rick was a loner and had a very tough exterior. He really did not connect with many of the church people and the one's that did know him did not think he liked them very much. Patrick stuck it out and became friends with Rick. God used their relationship to do His work.
During the past year and half, we learned that Rick had stage 4 cancer. Rick had a "bucket list", he explored London, Scotland, and many beautiful sights in Ireland documenting it through his photography. He expressed his desire to go to Israel. He knew his time was close, so he asked Patrick to accompany him on one last trip.
This past November, I dropped them off at the bus stop before dawn. After getting a message of panic, I scrambled back to the bus stop to look for Rick's bag with all of his medicine and camera. On the long bus ride to the airport, Patrick prayed intensly for the recovery of the bag so Rick's heart's desire would be fulfilled. Yet, the next call was Patrick's voice sad and low stating Rick was on the next bus returning to Portlaoise because without his medication he could not take the trip.
As Christmas time approached, Rick was admitted to the hosiptal. He was in good cheer and it was hard to tell that he was really sick. Despite his healthy appearance, we knew his diagnosis. Patrick and I would visit him as often as we could praying for him, with him, and adding him to prayer lists. Patrick spoke often with him about being ready to stand before God. These talks would end with Rick asking Jesus to forgive him, to give him peace and salvation. Yet, continued conversations of his past revealed anger and resentment to his mother. Rick grew up in commmunist Poland filled with tragic memories of loss and pain.
The break through came immediately after we cried out in anguish before God to bring other people to help us with Rick. See his condition grew worse, by January he was admitted into hospice and needed comforting people near him constantly. All of a sudden, many of his friends from church and community began visiting him. Some of these visits would turn into prayer meetings right at his bedside. We would see tear filled faces and we began to see Rick's heart soften.
One day, Rick decided to call his mother in Poland. He beame boy like as he cried with her asking her to forgive him. The very next week we met his very small, 87 year old mother. She only spoke Polish, but we could tell from her face that she was delighted to reunite with her son. She stayed only a week, but years of bitterness was desolved.
Just a couple weeks later, we gathered around Rick's bedside one last time. Now, there was peace, love, friends, and hope of eternal life. When the doctor arrived to issue Rick's death certificate, she spoke about three months earlier how she had warned Rick NOT to fly to Israel. "This, she said, "could have been catastrophic due to the air pressure in the airplane combined with the inflamation inside of Rick." At that moment, Patrick realized God had indeed answered his cries for Rick's real heart's desire.