Friday, April 25, 2008

Abel's With His Daddy

Dear Friends,

Please forgive me for not posting any updates. I had planned to write a new update last Tuesday, upon returning home from Tinca. I had already chosen to highlight "Abel" (pronounced Ah-Bel) and had gathered some pictures to share. Lili, the foster mom, had shared with me Monday evening that Abel and Silviu (the foster dad) might be able to return from Bucharest to Tinca for the Easter holiday (Easter is this Sunday). Sadly, we received news on Tuesday morning that Abel had passed away. Abel was a beautiful little 3 year old boy who was born with cirrhosis of the liver, with a live donor transplant expected to take place in May. Romanian Relief took Abel into their foundation due to his medical needs; however, his parents (who are poor rroma(gypsies)) were still involved. In fact, his father had recently agreed to be the donor as he was a perfect match. The funeral services were held yesterday at Abel's parents home. Abel's parents and family are evangelical Christians, so the service was quite unusual for the Foundation workers (who are all Romanian Orthodox). But the message given was one of hope... Hope through Christ, and for this I am so thankful. As Alina (one of the caregivers) and I walked from the home to the cemetery (the usual custom in gypsy communities), we spoke of Abel's life, his ability to change the whole environment with his infectious smile, and how he exuded joy even though he experienced pain. He truly impacted the lives of all who knew him, but I rejoice that he is now resting in his Daddy's arms. Please be praying for his family in the gypsy community and also for his family at the Foundation.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, words of encouragement and support.

With Joy and Peace,

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I decided each week I will highlight one of the chidren in Tinca with whom I am working. Viorel is a 4 year old little boy I have known since he was only 3 months old. I remember the first time Mia, one of the workers in the hospital, asked me to come look at him. He was so deformed, but you could tell he was so full of life! Viorel was born with arthrogryposis, a condition that affects his arms and legs. Thanks to Mia's love and diligence in continuing his therapy exercises, Viorel learned to sit by himself by the time he was a year old. Romanian Relief, the charity I am working with in Tinca, made the arrangements to have Viorel sent to England to have surgery on his legs. This enabled him to learn to walk! Now he not only walks, he runs! Viorel is a brilliant child and desperately wants to be independent with all his self-help skills (sorry for the therapy lingo). Alina (the psychologist), and I decided it would be best to start with his feeding skills. Thankfully, Christine was able to bring some foam, straps and velcro (supplies I can't get here) allowing me to make a adaptive spoon. As you can see from his smile, it was a great success!

La Multi Ani (Happy Birthday)

Spring has arrived and flowers are all in bloom! Last Wednesday I was showered with beautiful tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, freesia, a miniature rosebush and a bromelaid plant. I am thankful to have been born in the glorious month of April! Jokingly I had decided to take the day off for my birthday, knowing full well that it would never come to pass...instead I had my initial meeting with the autism parent support group in the morning, then went to the hospital to play with Levente and meet Jenny regarding his chair. It was great to meet up with some of the parents I did trainings for last year. One mother, Gabi, told me that she started working with her daughter on the vestibular activities I had suggested and within just a few weeks began seeing progress. Praise God! There are 33 parents involved in the group and they all want me to work with their children, which isn't realistic given my other commitments in Tinca and at the Center. Next weekend I will meet some of the children and then we will discuss which children have the greatest sensory needs. Levente seems quite comfortable in his chair, and Dorina and Rodica (the workers employed from my friend Kathy's foundation)both felt comfortable with positioning him. Due to the heaviness of his head, the workers rarely hold Levente. But for me he is easy, so I held him for over an hour and was rewarded with lots of coos and smiles. Wednesday was also my dear friend Felicia Vari's birthday (she is Luci's sister). So the Vari family surprised us with a HUGE celebration! We had an amazing dinner, with all my favorite Romanian foods, and were then presented with a scrumptious torta (cake)-Yum! It was definitely a birthday to remember.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Today Christine and I went to the Children's Hospital, primarily to see Levente- my little boy with hydrocephaly. I have known Leve since he was a small baby and he has so captured my heart! Jenny, a physical therapist/missionary here in Oradea, has been trying to develop a special seat to allow Leve to sit up (vs. spending all his time in lying in his crib). Jenny and I spoke last night and she asked if Christine and I could help modify the chair. Thanks to Christine's help and much patience, we were able to come up with an effective solution! Within minutes of finishing, Levente's mother showed up. Leve's mother is a young gypsy woman and has 2 other children. She comes to visit Leve from time to time, but never really interacts with him, I think due to her fear of hurting him. The family's understanding of Levente's condition is quite limited, and today she asked me whay they can't drain the water out of his brain to make his head shrink. I tried my best to explain that this wasn't possible, but that we were trying to give him a greater quality of life. As we talked, I noticed her facial expressions as I played with and kissed Leve. She seemed so sad, so I encouraged her to not only look at Levente, but to touch him. It was a truly special moment to see her beginning to interact with her son.

A Glimpse into My Week

April has only arrived and yet is already proving to be an exciting month. Christine, an occupational therapist from Minnesota, arrived on the 2nd and will be staying with me for the next 3 weeks. It has already been great having another pair of eyes and hands, and I am looking forward to her help especially in Tinca. Entering into my third week here in Romania, I have now developed a schedule and am more in "the flow" of things. So I thought it might be interesting to give you a glimpse into my week here. On Monday mornings I am traveling by bus from Oradea to Tinca (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours) and then staying there until Tuesday evenings when I take the bus back to Oradea. Staying in Tinca allows me greater opportunities to work with the children, as well as to spend time with the foster parents. Please continue to pray that I will have a great impact in reaching the children and caregivers in Tinca. Wednesday is my flexible day that I am using to meet/assist parents of children with disabilities, write reports, collaborate with other foundations and missionaries, etc. This coming Wednesday I will be meeting with the parent support group for children on the autism spectrum, discussing their needs and setting up home visits. Thursday and Fridays I continue to spend with Dora at the rehab center (former orphanage), seeing the children from the small "orphanage/group" homes. And Saturdays I am going to the Children's Hospital, primarily to work on the "genetic unit" (the section for children with disabilities). Sundays here are spent at church (3 hours in the morning), having Sunday dinner, and then returning to church for a 2 hour evening service. Because of the generosity of all my dear friends here in Romania, I have never had to cook on a Sunday! Thursday evenings I typically attend mid-week church services and Friday nights I have my Romanian language lessons with my friend Carmen. But for those of you who know me well, this schedule is really no more draining than my schedule at home!