Saturday, August 13, 2016

Spring/Summer Update

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" Psalm 34:8 (NKJV)

It seems only days ago that the trees were blossoming and the fruits were budding. Spring was absolutely glorious here in Romania. And yet, now here were are roasting the eggplants, canning vegetables and making jams. Summer is nearly coming to an end, and all the preparations for winter have begun. 

"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

This spring and summer were incredibly busy with trainings, consultations, mentoring therapists, meeting with parents, seeing children and relationship-building. Although I cannot deny there were days (actually more than a few) in which I felt completely overwhelmed, I was certain that each of these commitments was God-ordained and that He would sustain me. From the end of March until the end of July,  I traveled on the average of 10 days per month to other cities all over Romania, providing consultations to therapists, children and parents. I also did 2 trainings on sensory processing and 3 trainings on fine motor development. It's been exciting to share my knowledge and skills, but even more amazing has been the ability to share my heart-God's heart for children with disabilities- with so many people. Years ago I made a commitment to God that I would start every training by sharing Psalm 139. For many, this is the first time that they have heard that they are "fearfully and wonderfully made".

Baia Mare 

Mentoring Therapists/Consultations

In addition to my primary work here in Oradea (Pyramid Learning Center),  I am now providing ongoing consultation to two other clinics, one in Baia Mare, and one in Bucharest.  The plan is to go to each of these centers every 12 weeks.  Although this means a lot more train and bus rides than I would prefer, it has given me the opportunity to bond with many of the therapists. This has already allowed me to have some in-depth conversations about life, faith, hope, and perspectives.  I am also starting to meet with parents, so please be praying for me to have wisdom. So many of these parents are hurting and have lost hope.  Society looks down not only on their disabled child, but also on them. For some, they believe their child is a curse. For others, who fight desperately for their children to be accepted at school or in the community, they are exhausted and feel overwhelmed.  I have been providing some respite care to a few families and recently started praying with one of the moms. 

As much as I love coming alongside therapists and parents, I am thankful that I also have time to see a few children for therapy. This summer,  Pyramid Learning Center needed to close for a few months, thus most therapy is being done in the homes or in the community. One little boy lives in a village, about an hour away from Oradea and home visits were difficult to arrange, so he now comes to my apartment every week. I'm so proud of each of these children!
Luca and Andreea playing at the park
Mihnea is going up the stairs!
Petre's drawing
Alex's craft: awesome progress with cutting and writing
Outing with Luca

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Calvary Chapel's Mission Conference in Austria. I am looking forward of this time of refreshment and also a week of rest. My friend Sue, a CC missionary from Florida, will be doing all the driving, so we would appreciate prayers for safe travels. 

Join me in these PRAISES:
  • I'm coming home (to Arizona) for a visit from October 11- November 28th!
  • I was able to get a good price on a round trip plane ticket
  • Partnerships in Oradea, Baia Mare and Bucharest
  • New opportunities to meet and pray with parents
  • I found a new apartment! I will be moving the end of September
  • Relationships with therapists
  • Progress with children
  • Opportunity to attend the missions conference
PRAY with me:
  • To guard my daily quiet time with Jesus
  • For the missions conference this week- that I could quiet my mind and also be open to what God has prepared for me to hear
  • For my upcoming trip home~  to balance rest, enjoyment with family and also support raising. If you have a small group, bible study, group of friends, or a family that would like to hear more about my ministry here in Romania, I would love to share more with you :)
  • For wisdom in discipling/mentoring a young woman from my church here in Oradea
  • For wisdom in my relationships with therapists, parents, families, children
  • For the move to my new apartment
  • For Pyramid Learning Center and the staff; that God would make a way for us to reopen in September
All to His Glory,


Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Winter's Tale: December-March

Piata Unirii, Oradea

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from Romania! With today marking the first day of spring, it is fitting for me to not let this day pass without taking the opportunity to finally sit down and write a winter update. I pray that in addition to the words, the pictures I am including will give you a glimpse into my life here in Romania. 


December was full of Christmas activities and parties, which meant lots of planning and preparations!  I had volunteered to organize the Christmas party for Pyramid Learning Center's (PLC) children and their families, including parents and siblings. We were able to rent a room at a children's play area, which turned out to be an excellent venue. I wanted the party to also be a gift to the therapist's, a time to just have fun and enjoy being with the children. Thus, all preparations needed to done by yours truly.  I planned out the activities to have the families rotate through 5 stations: decorating sugar cookies, making an ornament, playing with gingerbread play-dough, exploring Christmas games on the iPads, and then dressing up with funny head bands and glasses to take a family picture. Being a fairly organized person, I had most of the activities prepared well in advance,  However, when I went to make the Christmas-scented play dough, I realized I didn't have any cream of tartar. Unfortunately, this is not an ingredient I can get here in Romania. After making a few calls, a dear friend had mercy on me and gave me this coveted ingredient. The simple things we take for granted. The week before the party, I decided to try to bake a trial batch of cookies, only to find out my oven was not working! Each tray of cookies was burning, no matter how low I set the temperature. My oven is electric and is not a typical oven,  more like a bad convection oven. Knowing I needed to bake sugar cookies for 50+ people all of the sudden became a frightening task! Thankfully, a fellow missionary invited me to come to her home and helped me with all the baking, including teaching me how to make buttercream frosting. For anyone who knows me well, knows how much I dislike baking, so I was truly grateful for her offer to help. I am also grateful that she was willing to share another coveted, and not easily available item to get here- food coloring. The children, families and therapists had a great time at the party, which also included a visit from Mos Craciun  (Santa Claus). 

Pyramid Learning Center Christmas Party

Christmas Vacation: Thanks to the generosity of my mom and sister, I was blessed to spend 4 days in Hungary, where I met up with my oldest niece, Khylie. Khylie is currently completing her Master's degree in Edinburgh and decided to come spend her Christmas break with me.  I loved getting to show her my favorite city- Budapest. My mom also treated Khylie and I to a day trip to Vienna to experience the famous Christmas Markets. Vienna is only 3 hours from Budapest,  so a day trip really is doable. The next day we took a 4 1/2 hour train ride to Oradea. After a good day of rest and introducing Khylie to a delicious home-cooked meal at my Romanian family's home, we then took an 8 hour bus to the beautiful city of Sibiu. Overall, we had about 24 hours in the city, but we both enjoyed exploring the old town, as well as the nearby ASTRA museum (an outdoor ethnographic museum). We ended our time in Sibiu with a visit to the nearby town of Cisnadie to meet up with the Tudose family, Natan, his wife Steluta and their adorable 3 children. Natan and I met on a train to Sibiu in the summer of 2000, and his wife and I worked together in 2004 at an orphanage. This was the first time I had seen them in over 10 years! We had a lovely visit, with the children reenacting the 3 wisemen coming to adore baby Jesus, and then singing carols. 


Day trip to Vienna


Christmas was quiet, but beautiful. After attending Christmas Eve services, I was invited to go caroling with a group of friends. Another beautiful Romanian tradition!


After a great week with my niece, I was excited to return to my typical life here in Oradea. While the therapist's took an extra week of vacation, I happily resumed seeing kids in their homes. One of the reasons I especially enjoy doing home visits is that I have more opportunity to really connect with parents and families. 

Home Therapy

Luca loving the snow day!
Luca and his brother, Toni
S.using PECS at home
Petre loves his crawler!

The last week of January, I returned to Baia Mare for a week of supervision at Asociata Autism Baia Mare. I always enjoy my time there!  The therapists are receptive to suggestions and are eager to implement new strategies. I also did a mini-training on sensory processing for the team, especially for the newer staff. 
Autism Baia Mare


In addition to consulting with therapists and families at PLC, and seeing children in their homes,  I also began helping one time a week at the main special education school here in Oradea. After months of consulting, the school agreed to make a sensory room. The staff are excited to begin using this new space. As the weather started to be better, I also started taking Luca on community outings every week. He is doing great at handling the money and also at waiting! We even went to a restaurant to have a tea.

Community Outings

The first weekend in February, PLC hosted a fine motor workshop, completed by yours truly. We had 30 participants, including psychologists, kinetotherapists, parents and teachers. The training was very hands-on which is not typical here. But the participants had loads of fun and were all able to identify strategies they could use with their children. The greatest satisfaction for me was returning to PLC the next week and seeing our therapists applying what they learned. 

 Fine Motor Training, Oradea

Putting it in to Practice!

The second half of February was spent in Bucharest. I was invited to provide consultation and evaluations in a clinic for children with various disabilities, a new partnership for me. But the main purpose for my visit was to see Liviu, who turned 10 on February 18th. I was blessed to have a 3 day visit with him, including 2 nights in a hotel. We had a great time taking walks, going to Cismigiu park, eating cotton candy, playing games on my iPad, and just talking. Liviu loved his birthday gift- an electric toothbrush.

Liviu's grandmother took Liviu home for his birthday, which meant we got to celebrate as a family! Liviu's twin sister, Crina, and brother, Nicu, were overjoyed to have Liviu at home. Several cousins and neighborhood friends came over to help us celebrate Liviu and Crina's special day.


March 1st a special day in Romania, called Martisor.  Martisor is a genuine Romanian holiday,  celebrating the arrival of spring.  A martisor is a small trinket adorned with red and white entwined cord, tied in a bow. These are typically given to female family members, friends and colleagues as a symbol of friendship, respect and admiration. Traditionally, martisors are worn for 9-12 days. I was blessed with several beautiful martisors and have fully embraced this lovely tradition.


Pyramid Learning Center: The children have been making wonderful progress on their fine motor skills! I have also been working more with some of our newer therapists, and am helping start some new small groups to address social skills and play skills.

March has also been a month full of special birthdays! We at PLC had a surprise party for my little friend, Petre, who turned 5 on March 11th. It was such a delight to bless his parents and he loved coming to the center. We are praying to find a therapist to work with him at the center 1-2 times per week.  We also celebrated Luca's 5th birthday. I took him on a special outing to the park and then to eat his favorite food, french fries.  We then celebrated his birthday with family and friends at his home. 

Happy Birthday, Petre!

Happy Birthday, Luca!

I pray this update blesses you as you see God's mighty hand in all He is doing here in Romania. I continue to be in awe of how He chooses to use me in spite of my weaknesses, but nevertheless, I am thankful. Thank you for your continued support and prayers, and for joining me in this journey!

All to His Glory,

P.S. Happy Spring!

"Look, the winter is past
and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up,
the season of singing birds has come,
and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air".

Song of Songs 2:11-12, NLT