Greetings from Voluntari, Romania!
It has hard to believe that is has already been a month since I arrived. Thankfully, I have had a smooth transition back into Romanian life, including culture, language and food. I can honestly say I feel just as much at home here as I do in the U.S.A. I know this is a gift from my Heavenly Father, and I am very thankful. I am also thankful for all of the prayers and support I have received. As my dear friend, Ann Carsten, always says : God is good, and I am blessed!
My "home base" is at the Don Orione Center. This is my 4th summer here at the Center, but this will be my first time staying here for more than 2 months. The Center includes a nursing home for 60 elderly people. a home for approximately 40 children and young adults with disabilities and a day center for children with autism. I am primarily working on the children's unit, but am also providing some training and consultation to the staff at the day center.
Instead of writing a lengthy letter, which would likely put you to sleep, I will share with you lots of pictures! I hope you will enjoy seeing these faces as much as I do :) It has been a wonderful and miraculous transformation to see these children change from hopeless to joyous. There is still much work to be done, but I know that He is faithful and will continue what He has started.
I arrived back in Romania on June 1st, which happens to be Ziua Copilului, or Children's Day. I love God's perfect timing! It was such a treat to spend my first day celebrating each of these precious lives!
7 of our children were privileged to participate in a day of hippotherapy in a nearby village. Gabriela, a therapist from Italy, helped make the arrangements and then worked with our 2 kinetotherapists, Ioana and Camelia. We all had a great time and the children definitely benefited from this therapy.
Last summer when I was here the British School of Bucharest (BSB) came to visit our children. One of the teachers at the school (Hannah) and I talked about the possibility of them coming at least once a month. This was so successful that they are now bringing student volunteers every Monday afternoon! To celebrate the end of the year, the school invited Laurentiu, Alex, Liviu, Ancuta and Luminita to come to their school for a visit. The staff organized activities and games for our children and also invited us to lunch in their school cafeteria. This was such a treat for our children and we are truly thankful for the partnership with BSB! We look forward to their visits again once school resumes in September.
|Laurentiu loved playing a new card game|
|Liviu loved walking around the gym!|
|Magda and Luminita|
|Liviu and Hannah having fun on the scooters|
|Our dancing queen~Ancuta|
|Laurentiu made lots of new friends!|
|Hannah and Luminita|
One of the great perks of living at the Center is that I have more flexibility to be available for special activities with the children. I had the pleasure to attend Alexandru's end of the year party at his school and also escorted Ancuta and Laurentiu to their end of the year program at the gradinita (kindergarten). It was such a joy to attend these events and celebrate the successes of these children! Alex will attend a typical first grade next year, and Laurentiu & Ancuta will continue to attend the kindergarten that is on the same property as the Center. They are learning great foundational skills and even have "English Hour"!
|Don Roberto and Alex|
|Alex and his teacher performing "Guess the Story"|
|Alexandru proudly showing his work display|
|Laurentiu and Ancuta with Dawn Americanca|
|Our Little Dancer, Ancuta|
|Laurentiu did a great job reciting his poem!|
|Sora Graciela and Lucretia|
|With Nina and Sora Graciela|
|Sora Argentina and Liviu|
|Laurentiu and Liviu love the nuns!|
|Dawn and Lili (with BabyAlessia on the way!)|
|Sora Lidia, Sora Graciela and Sora Argentina|
Sergiu's First Mass
On June 28th and 29th, a group of us traveled to Iasi to attend Sergiu's first mass, following his oridination as a Catholic priest last Tuesday. I was honored to be invited, especially since the priests are aware that I am an evangelical Christian. Don Roberto asked me and one of the workers, Nina, to take Liviu, Laurentiu and Alex along as well. It was a long 8 hour bus ride, but the children were so well behaved and were excited to get to go on a trip! The service was very beautiful and although I did not understand everything, I really loved being there. It was so cute to hear the children remember to say "Don Sergiu" (Father Sergiu)! After the service, we were invited to lunch at a restaurant, another big treat for our children!
|Gina with Liviu and Laurentiu. Gina was a great help!|
|Laurentiu and Dawn Americanca|
|My amazing coworker, Nina, with Liviu, Alex and Nicu|
|The boys loved having a sleepover!|
|Don Sergiu with the children, young adults and staff|
|Elena, me and Liviu|
|Lunch at a restaurant!|
|Don Sergiu, Dawn Americanca, Don Christi|
|We were also treated to a traditional dance performance|
When I left home, I was still uncertain about where I would be living. The cost of renting a studio apartment in Bucharest is quite high and then I had to consider the distance. I didn't want to travel more than 1 hour with public transport. I am currently staying in the guest wing of the priests home (a large building, somewhat like a college dormitory), but wanted to find something more permanent as I am staying here until March. Because the nuns have now left, their home became available for me to use. I will be moving later this week and will be sharing the home with 3 Italian music therapists for the next 3 months. They are here doing their internships. The house is actually a duplex. On the other side, 3 young ladies who are all orphans and previous street children, live. The nuns watched over them and this will now be my honor. I already have a special relationship with one of the girls, Luctretia. She calls me "prietena mea" which means "my friend". I have been spending time getting to know Gina and Lucica better, including taking them into the city and also on walks. I am excited to see how God is going to grow these relationships!
|Lucica, Lucretia and Gina|
Again, I am thankful for every prayer, email, letter, card, and word of encouragement. I am ever so aware that this is what is not only sustaining me, but allowing me to thrive here! All to His glory!