Friday, March 28, 2008


With much anticipation, I arose on Tuesday morning and prepared to go to Tinca by bus. Emma, one of the founders of Romanian Relief (the British charity I am working with), called me on Monday night and told me that their kinetotherapist would look for me at the stop by the police station at 7:00 a.m. So I left my apartment at 6:40 a.m. just to be sure I would have ample time. I wasn't certain of the stop as there are no marked bus stops. So to be sure, I asked an elderly woman who told me I should cross the street and wait by the petrol (gas) station. I waited. And waited. It started to snow, and yet I waited. Finally at 7:30 I came back to the apartment and called Alina, the foundation's psychologist, only to discover I was indeed at the wrong place! Because of the timing of the next bus, Alina suggested I wait until Wednesday to oome, which was a bit disappointing. Wednesday morning, Emma and Sarah took me to Tinca by car as they were going there to celebrate Dorina's (one of the little girls) birthday. Emma and I chatted the entire way, discussing the children and their needs. I was so excited to see Emma again and was so looking forward to spending time with her. But after being here for 7 consecutive years(she was only 19 when she came), she is moving back to England this Monday. Emma became a Christian while living here in Romania, but her family is not saved. Please pray for her as she says goodbye to the children here and readjusts to life in the U.K.

With my newfound knowledge of bus stops, I returned to Tinca today(Friday) without any difficulty. Since Alina and Ciprian (the therapist)were in Oradea today attending a course, I was able to play with the children in the "top house" and began assessing Maria and Cristina. Cristina has made so much progress and is now walking and talking! (She is the child on the ball, and also with Emma). Maria (the other child in the pictures) has many autistic-like tendencies, but I am hopeful she will also make great progress. After just 1 session, she demonstrated increased eye contact and even smiled (as evident in the picture)!

In addition to going to Tinca, I began working at the rehab center (in the former orphanage building) this week. It was so wonderful to see some of the children I have known for the past 8-9 years, especially my Erika and Sandor, and to collaborate with Dora (the woman I helped train to work with the kids). Because of legalities, I can't post pictures of the children under the care of Child Protection, but I will try to "paint" pictures via stories.

Thank you all for your emails, encouragment and continued prayers. Keep them coming!

Because of Him,

Hungarian Easter Sunday: Mivel O El

Mivel O El (mee-vel ooh yale): Because He Lives! Last Sunday the Hungarians here in Romania celebrated Resurrection Sunday so I chose to spend the day with my Hungarian-Romanian friends. Sunday morning I went to church with Monika and her family. Thankfully Monika's brother-in-law, Laszlo, translated the teaching for me so I was able to follow along. After church I went to have Sunday lunch at the Vari's. The Vari family is Romanian and will celebrate Easter the last Sunday in April. However, knowing that it was Easter in the U.S., Florica prepared special dishes (including the traditional red eggs) just for me! Brenna can attest that the typical Sunday meal is a quite the feast, but this was even more. Later in the evening, Denisa's (Milagros) adoptive father, Iuliu Mate, came to Oradea to pick me up and take me to their home in Biharia. Lucia and Iuliu had not told Denisa I was coming as they wanted to see her reaction. When we arrived, Denisa opened the door and said ,"Caio Dawn!" and then wanted me to come play with her and her brother Adam. The Mate's adopted Adam (Denisa's natural brother) this past December as he was also abandoned and was living in a placement center. Adam and I quickly established rapport! I was able to do a little testing on both of the children and then discussed the findings with the Mate's. Denisa is still fearful with certain movement and Adam has speech and fine motor delays, but in time and with their parents help they will both make great progress. Oh, Denisa was quite upset that I did not bring my nieces to play with her! We tried to explain that they are in the U.S., but she doesn't yet understand the distance and could not be convinced. We had a wonderful visit, but after 4 hours of speaking only Romanian and Hungarian, I was mentally drained. Unfortunately, the weather was too cold (with a light snow shower) for Denisa to wear the Easter dress my mom bought for her, but she was delighted to receive it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Here in Oradea

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Oradea! It has been a rainy, dark and cold Saturday, thus I chose to spend the entire day inside. Yesterday I went to Fundatia CASA (the Romanian foundation I have partnered with since 1999) to meet with Dora and discuss my schedule for next week. I commented to her that the apartment I am staying in was quite cold. She asked me what number I had the settings on, to which I responded "what numbers?". Apparently the government placed new meters in all apartments, allowing people to control how much heat they get. Major progress here! So with this new knowledge, I came home and promptly adjusted the numbers, but still no heat. Hopefully I can have one of my friends come over later tomorrow and see what needs to be done...I also am unable to use my laptop or Skype at this time, so please pray that a solution will be found. Until then, Dora has graciously invited me to use her computer, which is set up with Skype.

As for my travels, I arrived safely Thursday morning at 3:30 a.m. Despite a 1 1/2 hour delay in Heathrow (making it a 6 1/2 hour layover) the journey was quite uneventful. My dear friends Lisa and Kayla Smith drove me to the airport and helped with all my baggage. I was a bit concerned that one of my suitcases would be over the limit (23 kg is allowed but British Airways is accepting one bag at 32 kg until November 2008), but thankfully it was at 30.6 kg (abut 68 lbs) and the other weighed 22.6 kg (50 lbs). This extra weight allowed me to bring Easter dresses that I bought for Casandra (Halie's little girl) and Hana (Monika's daughter) as well as the beautiful dress my mom bought for Denisa. Nelu and Mihai, 2 of the workers from Fundatia CASA met me at the airport. The drive from Budapest to Oradea was rather eventful as Nelu was stopped and received a ticket from the Hungarian police!

The day I arrived was the first day of Easter celebration for Hungarians Christians living in Romania. Romanians follow the Orthodox calendar and don't celebrate Easter until the end of April. What an experience to celebrate Easter twice! My friend Monika is ethnically Hungarian and attends a Hungarian Baptist church here, so she asked me to come to church with her for the services. Thursday's service was in remembrance of the Last Supper, with the focus of teaching on the Gethsemane (Mathew 26: 36- 46) and taking the Lord's Supper. I again went to church on Friday as it was "Nagy Penteken" (Good Friday). This service focused on John 19 and the fulfillment of Scriptures. During dinner with Monika and her family, we discussed some other Hungarian Easter traditions, like eating ham with horseradish, girls coloring eggs (typically red) to give to the boys on Monday (who will come to their house to recite poems and spray them with perfume). Hana also modeled her dress for me, she is quite the little princess. Tomorrow I will celebrate Hungarian Easter with Monika in the morning and then with Denisa's family (also Hungarian) in the afternoon. I am sure I will write another update in a few days as I will want to share pictures of Hana and Denisa in their Easter dresses!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Therapy Time

These are a few of the kiddos I am anxious to see again! Levente has spent his entire life in the hospital, being abandoned since birth; Florentina lives in Tinca in a foster home and is thriving there; and the other picture is of Alesia and her mom. Alesia has a terrible disease called SMA, but her parents will try anything to help her thrive.

Romanian Life

These pictures give you a glimpse of life in Romania. The picture of the 2 women was taken as Brenna and I were walking to my friend Lucia's home; the picture of the haystacks was taken on a train from Huedin to Oradea, and the picture of the horse and wagon was taken in Oradea (quite a common site to see horses and cars co-exist on the streets).

Precious Children

These pictures were taken last summer in the gypsy villages of Calatele and Sacuieu, the 2 villages being ministered by Calvary Chapel Vladeasa.

24 hours to go...

Isaiah 55:12 : "For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace"

God has used this verse to speak to me time and time again as I have left home and followed Him on some amazing adventures. As I am writing this update, I can honestly say I am filled with His Joy and His Peace! For the past 2 weeks, many of you have taken the time to pray over me, offer words of encouragement and spend sweet time in fellowship. I am so thankful for each of you and for EVERY prayer offered on my behalf, as well as for all of Abba's Kids.
So after months of preparation and years of praying, I am finally headed back to Romania! I leave in about 24 hours, flying first to London, then to Budapest (after a 5 hour layover) and then my dear friend Monika will pick me and we will drive about 4 hours to Oradea. But I have no complaints and am blessed because I don't suffer from jet lag and typically can adjust to "Romania time" effortlessly.
Many of you have asked for more information on where I will be going and what I will be doing, so I thought I'd give you a short version. After being back in the U.S. for 4 years, God has confirmed to me, and to many people in my church, that it was time for me to return for a longer duration. I am not sure what that really means, but I do know He has called me to Romania until at least the end of August. I will be spending the first 2-3 months, splitting my time between Oradea (a city) and Tinca (a village). While there, I will be providing training in various hospitals, group "family" homes, working at the rehab center for the children placed in the small orphanage group "homes" and doing some community-based visits. Although I am using my skills as a pediatric occupational therapist, it is my desire that these skills be used only to offer opportunities to share the love of Jesus with each child and caregiver that I meet. As for June-August, my plans are still tentative. However, I am planning to spend some of the summer in Sancraiu with Nicu and Silvana, the Romanian missionaries, who head the 2 gypsy churches known as Calvary Chapel Vladeasa. I may not know any details, but I am fully confident that He knows EVERY detail!
I will be trying to post updates regularly, so check back often, And please leave comments or email me, I love hearing from you all!

With His Joy and Peace,