Friday, August 22, 2008

Festival of Flowers: Oradea, August 21, 2008

After finishing at the hospital, I had arranged to meet up with Isabela (my old roommate) as she is currently home on leave. Isa is a missionary in Kenya with Food for the Hungry, and we had not seen each other in more than 2 years. We had a great time catching up, praying together and sharing stories of how God is working in our lives. Isa is a true inspiration. So after strolling through the city center, we stumbled across this festival and ended up staying for 2 hours. What a huge treat! I had really wanted to see some traditional costumes and dancing this year, but I had completely forgotten about this festival. Just another special gift before leaving...Oh how He loves to shower His children with such gifts!

A little about the festival: Every August 21st the "Festival of Flowers" is celebrated here in Oradea, complete with elaborate floats, a craft fair, great food and amazing folk dance performances. Actually, this is primarily celebrated by the Hungarians living in Romania as it is really a continuation of "St Stephen's Day" (the most important Hungarian holiday, August 20th). Stephen was Hungary's first "Christian" King and is credited with "Christianizing" Hungary. But enough history.... I did however get to use my limited Hungarian and ended up having a conversation with a lady. Good practice since I am leaving for Hungary tomorrow. I will be in Budapest for 3 days before returning home on the 26th. So until then, thank you all for your encouragement and support! I look forward to seeing many of you and being able to share many stories and pictures (I have thousands!). May He receive all the glory and honor!

One more play date...

Yesterday was my last "working" day at the hospital. I was able to finally meet up with Rachel, the missionary from CC Costa Mesa, and spend a little more time with Anisoara, Dorina and Mia (3 of the amazing Christian "caregivers" on the genetic unit). It was such a joy to show Rachel ways in which she could stimulate development, especially for sweet Ioana. Please pray for Rachel as she adjusts to Oradea and as she works with the children. Also pray for her to find favor with the hospital staff to be able to take some of the children outside. I also had the great privilege to pray over each child, and then with the caregivers. Precious moments.

Just a quick update on some of the children: Anca is now walking by herself and becoming more confident in exploring her environment; Evelina continues to grow and may soon be able to have surgery for her cleft lip; and Soledad is rolling! Sadly, Levente is having more seizures, has less head control and thus is basically confined to his crib. I was able to hold him for about a half an hour and he even smiled! Please continue to pray for these beautiful children and for their wonderful caregivers.

Hannah's Heart

I had to include these 2 pictures of Alex and Anca enjoying this awesome play mat/convertible tunnel. It was purchased by Hannah, one of the youth from my church. Last year Hannah chose to use her birthday gift cards to buy toys and equipment for me to bring to Romania. Just another proof that we still have some amazing young people willing to look beyond themselves. Thank you Hannah!

Jewish Prague

Prague has a very rich Jewish history and many synagogues date back from the 13th-18th century. I was able to visit several of the synagogues and learn more about the legend of Golem. Interestingly, Hittler spared the destruction of the Jewish quarter of Prague as he had intended it to be "the museum of the extinct Jewish race". Apparently God had other plans and preserved His Chosen Ones for His great purposes!


I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Prague August 3rd-August 9th with my good friend Carmen and about 40 other young adults from Oradea and Arad, Romania. Carmen organized the trip through YMCA, but it was open to friends and family as well. Over 6000 young people from all over the world were represented at the YMCA Europe Festival! Here is just a sampling of my more than 500 pictures. I will be posting more on my Picasa web page, so feel free to check it out!

Prague's Castle Hill

Georgiana and me on Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge's Royal Way

St Peter and Paul Church, Vysehrad

Looking onto the Vltava River

On Charles Bridge

Castle Hill at night

The Astronomical Clock, Old Town

Carmen and me, behind us is the Church of Tyn

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

La Revedere Tinca Part 2: House 2

Alina and I pose in the last of the sunflowers

This past week I returned to Tinca to meet with Alina (the psychologist for Romanian Relief) and to do some final trainings on how to use the writing equipment with Viorel. Alina also helped me to explain to Viorel that I was leaving to go back to the U.S., but that I loved him very much and would not forget him. He is only 4, so I am not sure how much he "got", but I know it was important to try to explain. I am going to so miss my little guy. He is one amazing child and has captured my heart. Saying goodbye to Alina was also hard. We have become quite close and I will miss our brainstorming sessions, professional collaboration and most of all, our laughter!

Here are some pictures of the younger children in "House 2". Please continue to pray for these children and also for Alina and the other staff.

Maria is all smiles!

Viorel and his masterpiece

Dawn with Cristina (playing the harmonica) and Iasmina

Andrei and his lollipop. He is too cute!

Claudiu loves his frog puppet (with Silviu, house father)

Cristina with Lia (one of the workers)

Dorina enjoying her inghetata (ice cream)

La Revedere Tinca! (Goodbye Tinca): House 1

Before leaving for Prague, we had a little goodbye party with all the kids, complete with party favors (thanks Coreen and Wendy) as well as yummy ice cream. Most of the children can't really understand that I am leaving, but my sweet Abel and Nicoleta kept asking me why I had to leave and when I would be coming back!
Due to the number of pictures I want to post, I am doing 2 entries: one for each house. Here are the older kids from "House 1".

Darling (and daring) Darius

Adorable Abel

Loving Lidia


Precious Pami

6 Day Countdown

Yes, it's true. In just 6 days I will be back on U.S. soil. Arizona specifically. This last month has been full of excitement, with lots of traveling and tons of pictures/stories to tell. So now I am finally sitting down (it's 11:00 pm Romania time) and trying to figure what to blog. I only have 2 days left in Oradea before heading over to Budapest to spend my last 3 days there in hopes of having some "decompression" time before coming home. Upon returning from Prague, I have been busy seeing kids, saying goodbye to families and dear friends, and trying to keep focused on what He has for me each day. Last Friday was my final day in Tinca. I then spent the weekend in Nojorid with the Dorog family, especially to have a few more days to play with Ipu. This week I had my last home visit with Cristina and returned to the Rehab Center to see Dora. Tomorrow I will be at the Children's Hospital to say goodbye to the kids and staff. I will also be providing a few hours of training for Rachel, a fellow Calvary Chapel missionary. I am nearly packed and am coming back with less than I came with- yea!

Julia and Cristina checking out their new bubbles

Michelle and Cristina "having a ball" during therapy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chloe's Clothes

My little friend Chloe Stafford (she's 5 years old) has been donating her clothes to Romania since she was just a baby. Well, maybe her mom Bobbie started this tradition, but when Chloe Nae-Nae was only 2, she promptly and independently emptied her drawers and joyfully gave me clothes to take to "R-mania" (her cute way of saying Romania). This year I sent the clothes to Nicu and Silvana to give out in the gypsy villages. When I was visiting with Silvana, she shared some pictures of the children receiving the clothes and told me how appreciative the parents and children were, especially to receive tops and bottoms together! One of the favorite outfits was actually made by Chloe's mom. Thanks Chloe for sharing Jesus's love with the kids in Sacuieu!

Visting the Hagiu's

Nicu and Silvana Hagiu

Back in July (the 21-23), I had the incredible privilege to spend a few days with Nicu and Silvana Hagiu, the Calvary Chapel/native missionaries serving in the gypsy villages of Sacuieu and Calatele. After attending the baptisms in Sacuieu a few weeks earlier, we had planned for me to return, specifically to work with a little girl named Claudia. I also needed to deliver all the "Jesus Loves You goody bags" that my dear friend Jill and her neighborhood girls had made for the kids here. However, when I arrived we learned that most of the village was now up in the mountains harvesting blueberries. Due to heaving raining and problems with their car, we were unable to drive up to the mountains to meet up with the family. So instead I was blessed with 3 days of refreshing and sweet fellowship, including getting to go to Tuesday night church service in Calatele. Church service was held in Mama Maria's home, with Feri (one of the men who was recently baptised) and several young girls in attendance. After church, I was able to meet up with little Marinela, one of the girls who stole mine and Brenna's hearts last year. It was an encouraging time just being with the Hagiu's and seeing their servant hearts in action.

Girls Attending Church Service in Calatele

This last week I received an email from Silvana saying that they gave out some of the gifts to the kids in Calatele, and that the children were delighted to know children in the U.S. also love Jesus! Please continue to pray for the Hagiu's, especially as Nicu has now been made the senior pastor for the 2 villages, as they transition to being under Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa's missionary board, for Silvana as she ministers to the women and children, and also for the provision of a reliable car (or for their car to be safely repaired) as they have recently had to walk to the villages which takes several hours!

The kids of Calatele say Multumesc (thank you) for their "Jesus Loves You Bags"

Lazereni with Hope 4 Kids International

Yesterday I was surfing the internet and decided I should check out H4KI's website to see when Tom Eggum and his team would be arriving. As some of you may remember, I served alongside H4KI when I lived here 2002-2004 and have also helped Tom with short term teams the summers of 2005 and 2006. As I entered the site, I noticed a "blog update" and realized they were already here! So after heading on over to the hotel where Tom usually stays and leaving him a message, I heard back from him a few hours later and agreed to meet up with the team today. There are about 10 team members from all over the U.S., ranging from a 14 year old to a few retirees. After an awesome "family devotion" time, we headed out to Lazereni, one of the gypsy villages that H4KI helps to support. Some of the team finished painting the school buildings, while others of us did a VBS-type outreach with the children. We also did a craft: decorating t-shirts with markers. The kids had a blast! The markers had many other uses, such as for painting nails and applying "marker lipstick". We also were able to feed the kids lunch. It was precious to watch them as they said a simple prayer of gratitude in unison.

Because there were no translators assigned for the team today, I ended up translating (or at least giving good effort). Well at least the kids seemed to understand me... Two of the 2006 team members came again this year, Dwayne and Ramona (Tom' s sister), so it was good to see some familiar faces. I also had a great time getting to know Angie and Elizabeth, 2 of H4KI's staff, as well as Patrick, a PT/retired professor from NAU, and Sandra, a retired nurse from Florida. To learn more about H4KI's work in Romania (as well as other countries), check out their website: