Friday, May 30, 2008

Play Time!

Thursday we were able to bring the children in the "top house" from Tinca to the children's park in Oradea for a full day of fun! Oh how I wish you could have heard their squeals of delight as they explored all of the tunnels, slides and climbing structures. We also took them for a tram ride, and ended the day with lunch at McDonalds. It was so much fun but we all needed a nap by the end of the day!


My most enjoyable moments in Budapest were simply being with Zsofi. She, like the city, has captivated my heart!

A Time of Refreshing

"Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while" (Mark 6:31, NKJV)

The month of May was quite busy with autism trainings, working in Tinca, helping Dora reassess and write treatment plans on the children at Centru de Recupare, seeing children in their homes, and helping out with a team of therapists from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. I was asked to take part in a panel discussion during the "Sanctity of Life" Conference at Emanuel University, helped lead a workshop for PT and PT students, and then did some informal trainings for 2 of the teachers at Casa Minunata, a school here in Oradea. Jenny, my PT friend here, approached me a few weeks ago about going to Bucharest with her and another friend, Kristi. We were invited to come and do trainings for the staff at a local orphanage. Apparently they have received a good amount of sensory-integration equipment, but have no idea how to use it! So knowing that June will also be an adventurous month, God gently called me aside for a few days of my beloved city of Budapest (Hungary)!

My dear friends Kata and Istvan graciously offered me the use of their extra apartment, which is located in a great area! I was able to meet with several of my friends, go back to the school where I worked (and sat in on one of Kata's classes), meander though the city, and of course, I attended church at Calvary Chapel Budapest. My friends Edina and Zoli had me over for dinner and surprised with with the news that they are expecting their first child! Another important reason for my visit was to finally meet my little "Zsofika". My closest friends in Hungary, Agi and Lacza, had their first child 2 days after my birthday. Her name is Zsofi and I will be posting LOTS of pictures of her soon! It was a much needed time of refreshing...spiritually, emotionally and physically. I am sharing a few of my favorite pictures to give you a "taste" of Budapest. It is truly a captivating city!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cristina and Marcus

" And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't get discouraged and give up. That's why whenever we can we should always be kind to everyone, and especially to our Christian brothers" (Galatians 6:9-10, NLT)

Over the past few weeks, I have received calls asking me to work with several children in their homes. In all honesty, my first response was "No way, I don't have the time or energy to add anymore kids to my schedule". But then I prayed and the above verse pierced me. My friend Jenny (the missionary PT here) called, asking me if I could see a little boy in Tinca who was in a foster home. She had met with a doctor in the children's hospital here in Oradea who is somehow related to the family taking care of the child and the doctor implored us to help. Marcus is an adorable and precocious 4 year old who eagerly waits for his "massage and exercises". Because he is in state-run foster care, I can only show his profile. He is such a cutie! Then my friends Mihaela (Michelle)and David called, asking me if I could see their daughter. I have known Cristina since she was a baby and her parents have done a wonderful job following through with all my suggestions. So now I am seeing both Cristina and Marcus on a weekly basis. The really awesome thing is that the Gut family (the foster family for Marcus) and the Moza family (Cristina's parents) are all Christians. He reminds me time and time again that I have just the amount of time and just the amount of energy to do just His will.


Much to the delight of the children, I have been spending both Monday and Tuesday nights in Tinca. No one was happier than Nicoleta, who promptly offered me her bed! After explaining to her that I have to sleep in the "up house" and not in the "down house", Nico decided I needed to at least tuck her into bed at night. These precious moments allow me to give Nico the individual attention she so craves, as well as the amazing opportunity to pray over her. Nicoleta, or as we fondly call her "Nico", is such a precious young lady who spent her first several years in a state orphanage before being rescued by Romanian Relief. It is pure joy to work with her! With the help of Alina (the psychologist)and Ciprian (the physical therapist), I decided to teach the older children to play kickball this past week. We thought it would be a good activity that addressed following directions, attention and motor planning. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was quite an experience as Nico and the others just couldn't grasp the concept of running the bases! Mass chaos! After over an hour of practice, I am happy to report Nico finally "got" the concept.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

just a quick update...

I am headed out to Tinca in just a few minutes, but wanted to post an update before leaving. This past week, I held my first formal training session on sensory integration/techniques for children with autism. I had a great turnout (26 parents as well as a few teachers and psychologists) and the information was well received. From the pictures, I hope you can see how much fun we had! The parents each completed a sensory checklist, and from this information I am planning to prepare more child-specific training sessions. The other picture is of me and my new friend Olivia. Please be praying for her. She is a nurse at the children's hospital and was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She is quite depressed and lacks any hope. Saturday night my former roommate, Annamaria, and I prayed over her. Pray that she will see that their IS HOPE!
In addition to my typical schedule in Tinca (at Romanian Relief) and in Oradea (at the rehab center), I am now seeing 4 additional children in their homes (in the evenings). Laura has autism, Andreea has Rett Syndrome, Cristina has Down Syndrome and Markus has CP-like symptoms. I will take pictures this week of each of them and post another update soon.

Pace (Peace)

Friday, May 2, 2008

May 1st

Yesterday International Worker's Day (sort of like our Labor Day) was celebrated throughout Europe, including here in Romania. Nearly all the shops were closed and there was no bus service to Tinca, so it was a forced holiday (no complaints!). After not feeling well for nearly 2 weeks before finally agreeing to a week of antibiotics, I was able to do some work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but was looking forward to some rest on Thursday. Luci and Sorin invited me to go to Bratcuta, a little village in the mountains, where their families recently purchased a small weekend house. After a nearly 2 hour drive through some of the most beautiful, rustic scenery we were greeted by Sorin's parents and Luci's sister who had arrived on Wednesday. Breathing fresh mountain air and drinking pure water right from the spring, playing ball with Ipu, walking in the green, green woods...a great way to spend Labor Day! Of course the day would not be complete without partaking of the traditional foods: mititei/mici (grilled mince-meat rolls) eaten with bread and mustard; and miel (lamb) prepared in a ceaun(a large pot placed over a fire). Another memorable day!

This coming week, Alina (the psychologist in Tinca) and I are planning to complete Maria's evaluation and will then implement a sensory program. The house staff's understanding of autism is quite limited and their willingness to try "new things" is questionable, so any prayers would be appreciated. In addition, next Friday night is my first formal training session for the parents of children with autism (here in Oradea). Around 30-50 parents, as well as some professionals, including my new friend Jenny Lotter (a missionary/physical therapist serving here in Oradea), will be attending so please keep this training in your prayers as well.



Hristos A Inviat!

Hristos a inviat! Adevarat c-a inviat! Easter is by far my favorite holiday...and this Romanian greeting is one I have long loved. Beginning Easter Sunday and lasting for 40 days (until they mark Jesus' acsension), Christians greet one another by saying "Christ is Risen!" and then responding "Indeed He is Risen!". Here in Romania, Easter celebrations began last Friday (Good Friday) and continued through this past Monday. Friday evening after church, I returned home with Lucia, Sorin and Filip (Ipu) to stay the weekend in Nojorid. Saturday was spent preparing all the foods, dyeing Easter eggs and playing with Ipu! Learning how to dye traditional eggs was an amazing experience. We began by gathering leaves from the garden, dipping the leaves in water and then applying them to the eggs. The eggs were then snuggly placed in stockings before being placed in a pot of water brimming with onion skin/peels. After this boiled for about 15 minutes, we removed the eggs from the stockings, removed the leaves and then rubbed the eggs with slanina (a piece of pig fat) to make them shiny. Throughout Sunday and Monday, children came to the house, proclaiming "Hristos a inviat" and we rewarded with an egg!