Sunday, June 29, 2008

Adorable Abel

After sharing with you all the story of Abel and "staying out in the sun too long", I decided I should post a picture of this adorable 5 year old! I have known Abel since he was just a little baby as he was in CPI (the orphanage) when I was still living here full-time. Abel was our only child on the baby unit who was completely normal, but yet he ended up in CPI just because he was a gypsy and no foster home was found. So it was much to my delight when I was told that Romanian Relief had rescued him! Abel now attends gradinita (like our preschool/kindergarten) along with Miha and Iosif's natural daughter, Iasmina Bianca. Although he is making physical and cognitive progress by leaps and bounds, this precious little boy so needs our prayers for emotional healing. He has lots of attachment issues which make dealing with his behavior quite challenging. Please pray for Alina, our psychologist, to have wisdom in working with him and also for the other staff to have increased patience. Above all, pray that he will experience the supernatural love that only our Saviour can provide. Praise God that Abel truly is one of Abba's Kids!
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Since returning from Bucuresti, I have been spending more time with the 5 children in the "lower house" in Tinca. Most of the children have multiple learning disabilities, and the oldest child has autism. Despite the great care they now receive, it is important to remember that they were all raised in orphanages until just a few years ago. With this said, many behavioral and emotional challenges persist. Miha and Iosif (the houseparents) have been thankful for the extra help, especially during our recent excursions...

Excursion #1: To the Dentist!
Last week we came to the "big city" of Oradea where a very kind dentist examined all of the children's teeth. Although I was appreciative of her help with the kids, I couldn't muster the courage to be examined (no use of gloves, no real sterilization) despite the fact that I broke a tooth in Bucuresti. Afterwards, we took the children to the play area in the mall and rewarded them with pizza!

The joys of taking 7 children (the 5, plus the 2 natural
children of the house parents) to the dentist! Actually
it was much easier than I had expected. They all stayed
together in the little room, eagerly watching each other

get examined, waiting their turn, and asking the dentist
funny questions!

Excursion #2: Timisoara!
The children, along with Miha, Iosif and Bunica (Miha's mom) are spending this week in Timisoara, a beautiful city about 2 1/2 hours from Oradea. Alina (the psychologist) and I took the train down on Monday and spent 2 days helping out. The children were so excited to see us!

Group picture in Piata Unirii, in the old city center
of Timisoara. It is a beautiful square with lots of places
to sit and just enjoy the evening.

Alina and me with Darius, Nico, Pami and Doina
(the oldest daughter of Miha and Iosif). Doina is so
great with the other children and truly considers them
her family!

We had such a great time taking them to the city center, the heroes cemetery (Timisoara is where the revolution began in 1989 and thus many young people from there were killed), and to some of the parks. We had a few interesting moments at the parks. One evening, a boy who was also playing at the park went up to our kids and meanly accused them of being gypsies. Abel, our youngest child, quickly stated, "no, we just stay out in the sun too much". How cute!
Unfortunately, one of the children had an extremely difficult time while we were sitting in another park and began screaming and trying to injure herself. Upon seeing this, a group of elderly men began yelling at us, insisting that we leave immediately as we were disturbing their game of chess. It was such a sad moment for me, realizing just how unaccepted these children really are....

Nico and Pami, staying cool by taking a dip in a fountain

Behind us is the National Theatre, a place of great
importance during the Revolution in 1989

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Introducing...Casandra Vollbrecht

Casandra Avariel Wood-Vollbrecht

After an 11 1/2 hr train ride, I arrived back in Oradea last night at about 12:30 am and immediately turned on my computer to catch up on 2 weeks of emails and then called my mom. While talking to my mom, I realized my good friend, Halie had sent me an email a few days before with the most WONDERFUL news that I must share! But first let me tell you about Halie. Halie is a remarkable young woman whom I have had the honor to serve alongside and call friend since we met at CP1 (the orphanage in Oradea) in 2003. Halie moved to Romania to care for a little baby girl who had been moved from the Children's Hospital to the orphanage. The first time I saw Halie and Casandra together, I knew that Halie was indeed chosen by God to be Casi's mom. Halie and I spent EVERY day together, loving on and caring for Casi and her playmate Milagros (now Denisa). On the rare occasions when one of us couldn't be at the orphanage, the other always looked after both of our girls. When it was time for me to move back to the U.S. and Mila was still waiting to be placed in a foster home, Halie's continued presence gave me the peace that Jesus would still provide for Mila. In fact, Halie, Casi, and my friend Dora all threw Mila her 1st birthday party right before she was placed in her foster home.

Throughout her 5 long and challenging years here in Oradea, Halie has been shown AMAZING favor thanks to our AMAZING Father! She was given permission to foster Casi early on and has always had a great relationship with Child Protection. But the last few months have been stretching. You see, Halie is getting married in August (in California) and needed to have Casi's adoption finalized first. Many other young foreign women, although with legal Romanian residency, have had their adoption appeals rejected by the courts and Halie had not even been given a court date when I left for Bucuresti 2 weeks ago. But Halie knows she serves a faithful God who's timing is perfect and was not at all stressed. She truly exudes peace.

So last Monday she got a call from her social worker informing her that she had a court hearing on Wednesday, just 2 days later. This is so unusual as you are typically given a court date for months later. So Halie goes to court on Wednesday and with absolutely NO resistance from the judges, the adoption is immediately granted and Halie is given legal custody of Casi! PRAISE GOD!

Please keep Halie, Casandra and Eric (Halie's fiance) in your prayers as they prepare to head home to the U.S. in July, for their upcoming wedding, and also for their plans to return to the missions field here in Romania.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Team Bucuresti: Kristi (MT), Jenny (PT) and me (OT)

Today marks my 12th day here in Bucuresti, the capital city of Romania. We (Jenny, Kristi and I) have been traveling each day to a local children's center/orphanage where we have been working with children from the orphanage, as well as with some of the children from the community. Most of the children are on the autism spectrum, so Kristi and I are feeling right at home! The center has some amazing equipment (including suspended equipment/swings, rocker boards and therapy balls) so I have been in therapy heaven!!!!

Making a Roxana sandwich, or once Kristi composes the words,
a "sarmale" (the traditional Romanian stuffed cabbage roll)

Catalina swinging!

The equipment was primarily donated from Inimi Deschise/Children to Love (CTL), the ministry that is hosting us. Lili, one of the CTL workers, has also spent time in California and was trained in using the Picture Exchange Communication system (or PECS for all of my therapist friends reading this!), so the the center has a PECS program, which includes time in the "sensory stimulation room" and the "occupational therapy gym". However, the staff didn't know how to use the therapy equipment, which is why we we were invited to come. Lili has been working with children at this orphanage for about 12 years and has an incredible heart. Her love for the children is contagious!

Lili and her new swing. Jenny and I picked up this swing at the Ikea store in Bucuresti. The kids are loving it!

Last week I was asked to do a 3 day training course on sensory integration (SI) theory, assessment and intervention, and yesterday I did another training on how to manage aggressive behaviors. All of the trainings went exceptionally well and the staff have all been so attentive. We have also been able to come along side the staff during treatment sessions, helping them to implement the new strategies. It has been such a treat to do true SI work again, plus we have seen some amazing results with a few of the children in just the past week and a half! This has been so encouraging not only to us, but also to the staff. Oh so many stories I want to share...perhaps in another blog. Today we have to say goodbye to all of our new friends (both staff and children), so it will be a bittersweet day. Please pray that the workers will have seen beyond our tangible help and will have experienced glimpses of our glorious Savior, and that through those glimpses their hearts would be changed.

Say Cheese: Group picture with the staff