- Sr. Therese
My Story, Part 1
I was born in Moldova, a little country most people might not know where it is exactly, and I grew up in a village — my house was at the very end of that village. I had a pretty normal childhood, being surrounded with caring parents, and two older siblings, and other relatives of ours. I grew up in an Eastern Orthodox Church and from there I learned about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Saints, Mother Mary, the angels, archangels, hell, and so on….And as far as I recall it, this childhood of mine went well and sweet—until I turned 7 years old—an age mostly famous for being the age of reasoning, where a child begins little by little to make his own little reasonable decisions. Normally from this age up, children begin to know sin. Such was my case.
One day at my grandma's house, my brothers and I and a cousin of ours were gathered there to play as usual. But this time the play would be different. Somehow, I find myself in a playful position that would bring me into a deep lasting pit; my cousin, who was a few years older than I, was playing on me the game of “husband and wife" as I will call it, which was mostly about sexual relationships. This was a 5-seconds prank, (and just to clarify; no clothes were taken off, no nothing, just kids playing around) and, until this day, I don’t realize how or why, exactly, got me so quickly, but that prank stirred my senses for a second and in my curiosity, I wanted to feel it again. That was the day when sin came and gripped a hold on me. From there on I would engage in some practices where sexual pleasure would be stirred; playing "the boy", using my imagination to make up situations to my liking. And along the years as this lustful sin grew, I got to a weird point when I involved a puppy into this, some two other girls close to my age, and even one of my family members. But no matter what I did to myself, I never stepped over the boundary of actually having a physical sexual relationship with anyone. In spite this all, thank God, He gave me boundaries.
At the age of 7 when this lustful sin began, so began the issue with my health. I would have random fainting problems which happened whenever and wherever I was. Therefore, what I remember most of my days—aside from my pitfalls—were the hospital rooms, medical treatments, examinations, pills, medicines… I remember the doctors speaking with my mom, trying to figure out what was the cause of me fainting like that, but they were not sure what it was exactly. Some named this as possible Epilepsy and gave me prescribed medicine for that, but later on with years, my family and I discovered this was not Epilepsy at all. But I took those pills from childhood until my 20’s. And I remember that at some point I began to grow tired and weary of them really, but thank God there were some intervals where I did not take them. Until I would faint again, and the cycle would repeat itself.
So these perverted sins held my childhood and teenager days, and with it came a bunch of other problems which deepened themselves in me. I remember, from the beginning, I would go to confession as it was usual for us there in that village but would never tell the priest about it because I became aware that this was a sin and I felt ashamed and fearful. Fear of what the priest might say, and what parents or friends might think of me, being so young and already corrupted down a deep pit. I did not want them to know of anything, so I kept it hidden and locked in myself. From the outside I might have looked like a normal, decent child, living her innocent childhood but within I was already so corrupted. I was not what anyone would think of. But each time I would give in to the temptation, the more I deepened myself in its mire.
But you know, even as you are in your sinning state, the Lord is still working on your behalf to get you out of that pit-hold you jumped into. He did that for me.
I remember My parents, being Christians themselves, agreed to the advice of taking me to visit monasteries and priests to see that I would be made better. My dad, who was my example in practicing patience, calmness, and long-endurance, it was a delight to go with him to diverse monasteries. Those amazing places secretly grabbed my heart in their entirety, inspiring in me tiny wishes that would never leave until this day.
We visited diverse monasteries. One had a footprint of Blessed Mother encrypted on a solid rock; another would have handcuffs of a Saint that suffered in prison for Christ’s sake but was delivered miraculously by being taken up in the air and out of that place he has held into, and hearing his story caused me to dream, “Wow, what if I was like that? Long-suffering, faithful to Jesus even in the face of death. That would be so nice.” But one monastery marked me the most, this one was in Ukraine: it’s called monastery Poceaev.
In there they had the relics of a Saint laying near the cave he lived in, and according to the words spoken to us back in my time; anyone who would manage to enter into the cave through the very narrow and tight entrance was considered as pure, so to say. That even a pregnant woman with her big belly could pass through somehow. Looking my way, a priest suggested if I would like to go too and although I truly wanted to go inside that cave, I turned his invitation down. From the depths of my heart, I wanted to go but my brain kept thinking in anxiety, “What if I get stuck at the entrance? all will know that something is wrong with me, therefore my secret sins would be out into the open and everybody would know how ‘not pure’ I am.” Having my dad beside me increased my fretting.
However, Jesus doesn’t stop.
Before this cave scene happened, there were some ceiling paintings of Jesus being crucified, two identical versions in fact. And I heard it saying that at times one could see the knees of Jesus bending themselves right in front of your eyes. "Really?" I thought curious and a little excited. So I go and check about the difference between the legs of this Jesus. “Hmm, the legs of this Jesus are stilled…” I moved a bit and stepped to look towards the second Jesus on the other painting, and while I move, here I gaze and notice slight knee movements in this Jesus. "Oh! You just look at that," I said in my mind delightfully surprised, "It's actually true, what they said?” I took that event and locked it in myself, although pondering about that minutes later. It made me think, “why did Jesus allow me to see this since I was such a sinner already?”
In that same monastery I heard the still small, yet unknown, voice of the Lord (or of my Guardian Angel) because when I firstly arrived at the place my eyes set themselves to a wall-painting as I passed by it holding my dad's hand. And while Dad was speaking with a monk, I sneaked myself and got near the big painting. My eyes observed and read the flow and the story the painting presented to my big examining eyes—clouds filled with saints. Below the clouds were people pleading, as they were the sinners. Children, men, and women passing some kind of doors or climbing stairs heavenward; angels assisting and helping. It was so consuming and interesting that time flew by so fast and soon I heard my dad calling me back. But I went there again shortly after.
However, this time my eyes went to the very bottom of the painting; there was hell. Naked humans with weird ugly beings all over and around tormenting those naked men and women with some big black, forks. Their horns, tails, and the fire all around startled me and I quickly run back to my dad’s side when he called again, right on time. Frightened, I just wanted to brush those images off of my brain, but in the midst of my fear I sensed a gentle tugging on my heart as if saying, "Don't be afraid, have courage". And a feeling of calmness and gentle boldness strengthened me to go back to the painting again. Fear was brushed off of me and calmly, I analyzed hell and its scene. That painting became my first basic lesson on how heaven, earth, and hell seem like.
In the monastery, the voice of the Holy Spirit was clear in my soul as he reveled to my thoughts that a person was possessed, as I questioned myself about the person’s strange and fearful behavior she expressed when holy water touched her skin. I thought, “How can she be afraid of it and scream so if the water is holy and is good for her?” Then the gentle tugging nudged my mind that it was an evil spirit reacting thus in that person.
So, although I was in a perverted pit mingled with fears, shame, and scruples invading me, feeling dirty and unworthy; the Lord was moving. Aside from these sins, I remember of stealing out of self-interest, lying because of fear, or because of wanting to be accepted in some circle of kids I held in high esteem. I was fueled with puffed-up attitudes, pridefully comparing my art skills as better than other classmates as they began to appear and emerge and be praised. But I would also feel discouraged and a no-good when I would see someone’s [art as] being better than mine, which in fact was... But the deep wound was I felt more scared of being seen as a perverted kid at such young age. On top of that, being a girl—you know, "girls are supposed to be pure, cute, beautiful inside and outside." So I would put on a facade of being a good girl in front of parents and friends and other relatives. And if anyone got close to the scar and the wound, I would deny it in their face. I made myself a shell, controlled by emotions—afraid and ashamed of myself.
In the Lord's goodness He had one of my aunties from my dad's side, feed me with spiritual food, as she herself lead a life for God [more] than other relatives. You could say she was my little spiritual mother, as well, as one of my brother’s. Both of us were fed by her from childhood to our adolescence until we ourselves began to seek more of God on our own. This same auntie the Lord used to stir and inspire me toward Godly Art (she is good at arts). Looking at her painting, I wished to bend my art toward Heaven-related things too. But I never did it. I did not have the courage to do that because I was afraid of what my mom would say. Although my mom is a good mom—loving and caring, I perceived that due to past wounds inflicted on her soul she would have open injuries (spiritually speaking). My mom loves much, but when that love is stepped upon harshly, the injury hurts much. I do not know why or how, but I could see she did not want her children to follow the same path as the path my auntie, Godly speaking—which is, exactly what happened with me.
At the age of 12 years old I moved to Portugal where I would live for the next thirteen years. A week after we arrived, there was this school waiting for me with a bunch of strange kids speaking some odd funny sounds which I did not [understand]. All alone in an unknown territory, I found comfort only in my two brothers who were of my own flesh and blood and spoke the same language as me in that school. And occasionally, if I found out there were other girls or boys from Romania, Moldova, Russia, or even Ukraine, I felt they were my next-door neighbors [laugh]. Since we all come from those surroundings, it was comforting to know we were not alone. Although I was excited to learn the language, the only words I knew back then were “Yes” “No” “Thank you” and “What is your name?” This lack of knowledge made me ignorant to the words my classmates addressed towards me. In my mind, I never assumed they would say anything harsh. "Why would they anyway?" I thought. However, since day one in my very first class, a troublemaker from the far end of the class spoke some words to me which, not understanding him, I ignored him, turning my attention toward the teacher. But he insisted on speaking and got to the point of getting up from his chair, walked all the way through the classroom, and forced his pointing finger near to my head in a very tough, mean, manner (or he just pulled my hair, I can’t remember what he did exactly). "What's wrong with this guy?!” I thought. “I’m here for some minutes, barely arriving, he hardly knows me, and already attacks me?" I looked somehow slightly angry inside and bitter, and afraid, “Is this normal here?”
Along the days some of my other classmates began to use my own name as a form of bullying. Being "Irina" they altered it to "Urina" which in Portuguese is urine. I had no clue what that word meant and went along the "joke" until my ignorance was brought to light by my family while I gladly shared this during one of our meals as if it were a “friendship" thing at school. But turned out it was a form of bullying, crushing me to powder inside. The next day I ended up pushing and harming one of my classmates who got on my nerve. I almost got myself into a fight.
(Funny, isn’t it? Almost all Heartdwellers suffered some kind of bullying back in their days…. Hmm, Lord, I wonder about that).
So this was my childhood and my adolescence—back and forth—school, friends, hidden unconfessed sins, inner battles which deepened, bullying, inner rejection and shame, ungrateful even about my "very white skin", so to say, which made my arm hairs seem so dark-looking. I had suicidal thoughts, depression, emptiness, and so forth. But my greatest fall happened when I moved school again, around my 11th grade. I met a guy; a classmate of mine (I'll name him Tony) and I gradually developed a crush on him. Then the deepest end of the pit began:
I would skip some classes and would go to places—you know what happens when teens skip classes and go messing around in hidden places—I would blindly go to this boy’s house and spend hours there, in sins and fornications. I would think that was what love, I mean, that’s love, right? But once again, although I went along with those fornications and sins, which were real physical now, I never had an actual sexual union with him. From day one that I got to his place, I had a strong boundary that I would not have any sexual relationship with him or with anyone until after I marry.
But again, while this secret relationship was happening, God was moving.
Tony and I would have some many breakups for whatever reason, really. But I would always forgive and return back to him, just to break up again. Strong warnings in my dreams began to appear where I would see myself as naked and encaged in a football stadium and Tony was on-site at that football stadium. And he was acting as a predator after its prey, wanting to devour her. The warnings kept coming, both in real life and in dreams, until one night I was shown myself being totally naked, by a riverbank, holding his hand. But when I gazed toward the other side of the river, I saw myself in a mirror—a mirror of myself totally abandoned, holding the hand of nobody. The feeling of abandonment struck me to the core which caught my attention. (“Finally!” God would think. LOL). The next thing I see in that dream is an open door with another "me" but this me was clothed, she had a dark sweater, with a dark skirt to the knees, and dark leggings while leaning on one of the sides of the door. This other-me was ever so calmly looking at the naked-me, but gently sad and melancholic at my state. She seemed more mature there. Then I woke up.
You see that whole dream was from the Holy Spirit. He was using symbolic language; The black plain skirt for me symbolized "a religious life" because we orthodox girls would wear dresses or skirts while going to church. And the color black also represented "religious life" because the priests and the nuns would wear mostly black as I saw them in monasteries and churches.
To sum up, it was all God’s doing, with Him putting blocks, warnings, and events to stop me from moving forward with this relationship. He was faithful to warn me, but I was so blind enough not to "get it." So He allowed me to fall face flat on the floor. Something happened that perplexed me into thinking I was pregnant, which threw me into a full depression like never before. Anxiety made me think of abortion, Fear fueled that idea as thoughts ran marathons in my mind. “Nobody knows a think about me dating Tony, and now to come up with this of me being pregnant?!” One day, while waiting at a train station, still in this deep depression and anxiety, a thought came to me—the thought of going to a priest and repenting of this all. It was my only way out at that point. So I went to an Orthodox Church, our usual Orthodox Church, and when it was my turn to go and confess, instantly, when I saw that priest, hot tears gushed forth. He kindly held my hand to calm me down as I confessed my sins with Tony, And here amazingly something happened here that I went to further in-depth and confessed all my hidden sins that I held onto since childhood. (Amen, to that!!) Trying to understand my situation and my crooked voice which was bad because of crying, the priest understood that, in fact, I was a virgin in body, but corrupted in mind. His next move shook me to the core because he literally put into words a deep tiny secret desire, I held inside myself since a very young age, to whom I said nothing about, to nobody. He tells me with wisdom to not marry but to remain a virgin. Oh boy, oh boy! My crying face suddenly gave off such a smile that it felt as though a fresh wind brought bones back to life. And of course, with each meaningful word God gives to us as guidance, the devil would want to try to steal that, right? Yeah, he tried that, but he failed on the spot [that’s another story] But a little background about my tiny little wish— What inspired in me that tiny secret desire was a word that I had heard from someone mentioning that many virgins surrounded Mother Mary in Heaven, as they all were under her motherly protective care and mantle. It made me wish, “Aw, I wonder if I could be among them.” Hmm, I melted at the thought—and that thought was for brief seconds, but it never left me. It just got deeper inside me. And sometimes, it might have been that I wanted to not married anybody because of what I was going through with those perverted sexual sins, which at a certain point began to tire me. So I just wanted to remain single and care not about this union.
So, after finally repenting of all, in comes the season where I search for spiritual food for my soul once again. Eventually, I found the Heartdwellers YouTube channel back in 2017, through a person named Jackie who kept mentioning the name "Sister Clare”. I went to investigate who this person was this person, Sister Clare, and after finding the channel and after checking how the people respond to that channel in the comments, I settled down and I dived in the messages. Each day I would just watch a thousand messages. Of course, I’m exaggerating, but I would see them, and I would love the dialog Mother Clare had with Jesus. So friendly, so open, and so "herself" it made me want that type of relationship with Jesus too, so much so that when I found out in a message that I had to repent of all my known sins first and give my heart to Jesus, I just instantly took a sheet of paper and wrote down all my sins, even to the secret sins I just repented of before, (I still wrote them down because I didn’t want anything to escape me, so I just wrote them down), making up my mind that in the morning I will tell them before the Lord. However, Jesus surprised me. The very next morning being half-asleep, half-conscious I began to hear some words keep flowing in the air and hitting my ears repeatedly "Love me badly, as you do." Then I instantly notice a man wearing all white and with his hooding on. He had his hand on my messy morning hair.
(Fun fact: I was looking at him with the back of my head, I had my face toward the wall. LOL)
"What! Jesus?? Let me see if his chin is the way I saw in the portrait of Akiane!" Quickly I focus on his handsome beard and chin, "Yep, totally different from our slim Orthodox Jesus pictures. Man, he's handsome." And all of those silly thoughts in split seconds! Why didn't I look at his eyes instead? Hmmm?
Waking up completely I wondered at his words, ”Love me badly...as you do"? But I barely know you or feel any madly emotion of love for you, I wondered. But I deeply wanted to love him that way. Maybe my spirit loved him so, while my conscious self is oblivious of my spirit's state with the Lord.
From then on, my lifestyle gradually began to have firm changes. I would put into action the teachings of avoiding sin shown in television, magazines, movies, anime, etc. All the things that I sought after for my pleasure before, I began to despise and shunned away. Even to the point of shutting down the TV in the face of my older brother’s face over a movie scene! My behavior was noted by my family and therefore with that began some form of resistance and slight persecutions at times. The tension between mom and I rose up most keenly while dad felt he was caught up in the middle of "gunfire" where he had to choose sides: his wife or his daughter. The women of the family were at "war" when the topic of Heartdwellers and Jesus appeared, or of my “strange” behaviors. Which I never told them anything most openly. So that also rose up tension between us
For the next 2/3 years, God would lay the foundation in me, and, in His wisdom, He closed some doors for me because I went “offline” and “off-the-map”, so to say. Those years were mainly constituted with my little family, God, Heartdwellers, Art, and discovering my gifts, to say among the main things. None of my few friends knew a thing about me, because again, I told nothing. Our group chat on Skype became like an abandoned village.
Each year there would be major blessings that would always mark that year, which made me always ponder for the next year, “Hmm, what would this year be like?" I asked the Lord, curious and excited because He would do something new each year. There you go, as it says, "He is new every morning" in this case "every year!" [Laugh].
The first year He gave the new heart of flesh. The second year, the gift of tongues, and a final release from the remaining lingering waste from the past perverted sins which tired my mind. I felt discouraged at that moment because, having been for so long in that sin, it kind of twisted my mind. My imagination was pretty much a trash can. I would see normal natural objects or whatever, and my mind would instantly pervert it to something sexual. It was sickening and tiering me. I could not even wash my own body while in a shower, I had to close my eyes so I won’t see my body and have some perverted sins toward myself If could not even read the Bible when something like the union of husband and wife was mentioned because, yeah, it was tough. On the third year, God decided it was time to bring me out of my hidden place; He gave me a job. For a full year, I would work at the laundry of Hotel Corinthia in Lisbon. (And he also brought back my few 3 friends.). It was amusing because the laundry was at the very bottom floor. “Man I feel like the Underground Church!” Kept underground for a whole serving year. “Oh boy, this place feels like the Corinth of the Early Church, so many nationalities gathered in one place here. Wow! Even the boss is named Caesar!” (Yeah, that’s true. He was like the second in charge, but he was the most present in that hotel).
Hilarious, Lord, hilarious…!
And then the fourth year (2020) is famous for its worldwide lockdown. This year was spent inside our apartment, awaiting the birth of my first niece, and tending to my ministry with Rainbow, previously known as LoveGodLife, now known as Heartdwellers Caribbean.
But in comes the fifth year (2021), and once again "God is new every year."
(To be continued on Part 2)