Saturday, July 26, 2008

Clowning Around in Tinca...

This past Thursday, Randy, Lacie, Amanda, and Amanda (yes, 2 Amandas) joined me in Tinca to help celebrate Viorel's 4th birthday. Initially, the kids were a bit hesitant of my "clown friends", but after just a short while they were all having a blast! Randy is an amazing balloon artist and truly made each and every child feel very special. It was also a huge blessing to see the girls loving on the children. I warned Randy that soon his interns would all be defecting to my "team" (especially the Amanda who is studying to be an occupational therapist)! Viorel also had another special visitor, Ciprian. Cipri travelled all the way from Satu Mare, about 5 hours away, just to be here for the party. And he also bought Viorel his most treasured birthday present, a remote control car!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rehab Center and Hospital Visits

Yesterday I decided to take a day off from Tinca as I needed to touch base with Dora at the rehab center (former orphanage). It was so great to see the changes in many of the children. Illona is now walking with only a little hand-held support and Maria is practically running! In addition to the children in the small group homes, Dora also sees children from families. Recently she started working with one of the little boys I know with autism. Dominik has some challenging behaviors, so I spent the session showing her and Cristi (the psychologist) how I have worked with him successfully in the past. I also got to work with Kincso, a little girl whom I have known for the past 3 years. She has changed so much since I saw her last year and is now speaking in both Romanian and Hungarian. She loves her new wheelchair and is trying to learn to wheel it all by herself!
Kincso is all smiles!
Due to some of the children being gone for summer vacations, Dora and I had a 2 hour break. This ended up being a great blessing as it allowed us enough time to go to the Children's Hospital for me to check in on the children and the workers. As always, Mia, Dorina and Rodica welcomed me with open arms. There are now 12 children on the "genetic unit". I primarily worked with Rodica on positioning Soledad and then fed Levente . Exciting news: Levente is now eating with a spoon! No more bottles, yea!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cluj and Sacuieu

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong and do not fear! Behold, your God will come with a vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you." (Isaiah 35: 3-4, NKJV)

Visiting the Maury's

Jerusha, John, Charity and Ethan Maury are missionaries now serving in Cluj. They continue to also work alongside the Hagiu family, serving the gypsy villages of Calatele and Sacuieu.

Last Friday I travelled to Cluj-Napoca, a city about 3 hours from Oradea, to finally meet up with the Maury family. John and Charity are currently living in Faget, a village about 15 minutes from Cluj, and had graciously invited me to come and stay with them. It was great catching up with them and getting to play with Ethan and Jerusha again! I was able to work with Jerusha on some exercises to help her back and shoulders. She had a blast playing around with the theraband and they both loved playing "zoom ball".

When I arrived, I learned that a team from Calvary Chapel Treasure Valley (the Maury's home/sending church) was out in the villages doing VBS and John surprised me with the news that we were going out to Sacuieu on Sunday afternoon as they were holding their first baptisms since beginning their work out there 3 1/2 years ago! How amazing is God's perfect timing that this would be the weekend that I would be in Cluj! The whole weekend we spent in prayer as many of the team members, along with Nicu and Silvana Hagiu (the Romanian missionaries ministering out in the villages), were experiencing physical attacks, dreams and visions. Many of the people who had come forward for baptism were backing out due to fear and true persecution. Family members were placing curses on those desiring to follow Christ in baptism and one woman was badly beaten by her husband. By Saturday, Charity and Ethan were quite ill and discouragement was setting in. But then God gave me the above verse, helping us to redirect our attention to our God who has overcome this world and delivered us from fear! On Sunday, I was able to attend Calvary Chapel Cluj (Golgota), the new church plant that John is heading up. Unforunately, Charity and the kids were too sick and had to stay home. However, Ciprian (my therapy friend who recently moved to Cluj) joined me for church. Please continue to pray for him as I really see that he is seeking to understand truth. After church, John and I drove to Sancraiu to meet up with the Hagiu's and the team from CC Treasure Valley. It was such a joy to finally meet Silvana, Nicu's wife. She wanted me to let everyone know that the medication we sent over in the winter was a huge blessing for both villages. Hopefully we can do another medication drive soon.

Baptisms in Sacuieu

Around 3:00 we all headed over the mountain to the village of Sacuieu. John and Nicu first drove to Caletele to pick up Feri, a young man who desired to be baptised. We were eagerly greeted by hugs from all the children. Immediately my eyes were directed to Zorca, one of the little girls who captured my heart last year. When she saw me, her eyes became so wide and a huge smile followed. Oh how our hearts leaped, realizing we had not forgotten one another! Needless to say, she stayed by my side the entire evening. Even more exciting was the news that her mom, Marioara, was one of the women who had decided to be baptised! Church services were held with us all sitting on the hill. It was so beautiful to hear my gypsy sisters and brothers singing out to the Lord! After Nicu and Darryl (the pastor from CC Treasure Valley) preached, John and Nicu made their way down to the little river for the baptisms. We had prayed for at least 2-3 people to stand strong and not back out of their commitments. But God did a mighty work and 10 people were baptised! It was a truly overwhelming day. Afterwards, we had a barbecue and enjoyed sweet, sweet fellowship. Silvana and I went and visited several homes, and then joined some of the team members in one home to pray over a little girl, Claudia. Claudia looks like she has cerebral palsy and really needs some help. God willing, I will return next week to do some parent training and also to pass out some of the goody bags that my dear friend Jill and her Backyard Bible Club kids made.

Ciprian's Kids

Ciprian is now working in a special needs gradinita (kind of like a kindergarten, but for ages 3-8) in Cluj and had invited me to come help him for a few days. Most of the children have significant impairments, and only a few are able to walk. But Cipri has such an amazing love for these kids! I was excited to find a platform swing and ball bath, and even more excited to get to show Cipri how to use these great therapeutic tools. He ended up having so much fun and could see how much the children were enjoying their therapy time! After working all day on Monday, Cipri took me on a 5 1/2 hour walking tour of Cluj. What a treat to see all the hidden treasures of this beautiful city with an insider's perspective and knowledge. We even visited 2 churches, one from the 14th century, and another from the 15th century. I have added a slideshow on the sidebar, so you can easily check out my Picassa album by simply double clicking on slideshow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Basking in the Sunflowers

One of my favorite reasons to be in Romania in the month of July is because of the vibrant sunflower fields that I get to drive by every day on my way to Tinca. However, because I am riding on a bus, I have never had the opportunity to take photos. Last week my good friends, Randy and Debbie Bullock, arrived back in Oradea. One of their interns (Amanda from Florida) is an aspiring OT student, so this past Tuesday she joined me for a day in Tinca. Riding out to Tinca with Randy, I mentioned that I had wanted to take pictures of the sunflowers. So on Wednesday morning, Randy, Debbie, their 3 interns (Amanda, Lacie and Amanda), 2 of their Romanian workers & I piled into their van and drove out to some of the fields on the border of Oradea so I could finally take these pictures. Unfortunately, the sun was shining down with some major intensity so I am squinting in all of the photos!

Jenny, my new roommate (I moved into her apt when we returned from Bucharest) also came out to Tinca on Tuesday to help me with Viorel. Sadly, the foundation still has not found a suitable kinetotherapist (PT) since Ciprian resigned in May. So for the past 3 weeks I have been doing all the therapy(ugh..)! Jenny was able to train the house parents and the house workers on some stretching exercises for Viorel's legs. Thankfully, the staff was very receptive, especially since Jenny is creating a program for them to follow. This will help me have more time to focus on increasing his hand use and for making adaptations for his self-help skills (I know more OT lingo!). Oh, and Amanda enjoyed Tinca so much that she is joining me again next Wednesday!

Tomorrow I am heading to Cluj where I will be staying with the Maury family (yea!). I am excited to see them again and also to be able to attend services at Calvary Chapel Cluj! On Monday and Tuesday I will be working with Ciprian, the former kinetotherapist in Tinca, before heading back to Oradea Tuesday evening. Hope you all have a happy and safe 4th of July!