Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oradea: June/July 2015 Update

Returning to Oradea

51 days. It has been nearly 2 months since I left Arizona, once again returning to Romania.  However, this return brought me back to the first city in Romania where I served in 1999, Oradea. Oradea is in the northwestern part of the country, just 10 miles from the Hungarian border. Thus, I was able to fly into Budapest, Hungary and spend 36 hours (even if primarily sleeping) in my most favorite city before taking a nearly 5 hour bus ride to Oradea. Although the visit was short, it allowed me just enough time to recover from jet lag before continuing on to Romania.

It has been a unique experience to return to Oradea. In some ways, I feel like it is the same little town I fell in love with in 1999. Yet, in many ways, the city has greatly changed. There are new modern buildings being built and so much renovation and restoration are being done to the old city. They are making the largest square in the city center (Piata Unirii) into a pedestrian zone. It will be wonderful when it is completed, but in the meantime, all of the trams which go through the city center are not in operation. This has meant learning bus routes and enduring much longer commute times while traveling anywhere in the city.  Typically, my commute from where I am currently living to where I am working takes 45 minutes. I know that doesn't sound like much of a commute, but it has been in the 90s-to low 100s here and many of the buses don't have air conditioning. But I am still finding much to be thankful for~ at least there is a bus stop less than a 5 minute walk from where I am living! I am also thankful that while I am searching for an apartment, I have been blessed to stay with my friend Lucia's parents and sister.  Although I don't have internet available at their home, I am learning the beauty of living a simpler life (at least for a while).

I am also incredibly thankful that I am already connected to a solid church, Biserica Baptista Speranta Oradea (BBSO).  For the past month, we have been looking at different traps. A few weeks ago we looked at the trap of fear.  It was a fitting message as I had been really struggling with fear. I knew God had sent me to Oradea, but I was really struggling with fear. Fear of adjusting once again to a new place, new people, new surroundings. Fear of not being able to find an apartment. Fear of living without internet (yes, that was a true fear!). Fear that my visa paperwork wouldn't be processed in time. But God, being the faithful Father he is, didn't leave me in this trap of fear. He helped me gain a new perspective.
Here are a few of my notes that I took in church that Sunday: 
Fear imprisons us. When we think about problems and obstacles, this causes us to become paralyzed. We no longer see God. This takes us away from the goodness God has prepared for us. God wants us to be free from this trap! In 2 Kings 6: 8-23, Elisha traps the blinded Arameans. This is a great passage to look at when considering perspectives.  Elisha's servant sees the army with horses and chariots that has surrounded the city and is filled with fear.  He goes to Elisha and asks "Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?". The important thing to see in this question is WE. But Elisha offers a different perspective. Elisha is not afraid because he has kept his eyes on the Lord and is able to see beyond his situation. He knows that is isn't about what WE will do, but rather about what God is doing. He encourages his servant not to be afraid, because "those who are with us are more than those who are with them".  Elisha than prays that his servants eyes would be opened that he may SEE. Elisha truly SEES and knows that God is there with him. This is my prayer, that when the trap of fear tries to enter, that we would see beyond the situation, keeping our "eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith"(Hebrews 12:2).

Here are a few pictures from downtown Oradea:

My favorite building: Mosvokits Palance
Piata Unirii, in construction
Along Crisul Repede, thankful for this little river :)
Vulturul Negru Passsage
Pyramid Learning Center (PLC)

Although my original plans were to not start working at PLC until I completed my visa paperwork, God apparently had other plans! Within just a few weeks after arriving in Oradea, I was able to complete my paperwork for the Baptist Union/Ministry of Cults, the first step I needed to complete in order to apply for my religious visa. This then meant waiting. And any of you who know me at all, know I can't stat still while waiting! This is especially true after spending 3 months in the USA without working. So when my friend, Ioana, who is also the director of PLC, asked me if I could start helping at the Center in June, I was more than happy to say yes!

PLC is a day center for children with disabilities, primarily with autism or language delays. Currently, I am seeing children alongside the PLC staff, offering consultation primarily for sensory processing and gross/fine motor skill development.  It has been a joy to get to come alongside these therapists and offer suggestions. They have been so receptive to my feedback and I am already seeing them implement new strategies! I am also starting to develop relationships with some of the parents, which is my greatest desire. A few months back, I was listening to an old interview with Chuck Colson's daughter. She has a grown son with autism and was speaking about what she really needed when she was raising her son. She said most of all, she just needed someone to "be there".  Although I am thankful for how God has equipped me as a therapist, more than anything, I just want to "be here", to be present and available to minister to these families however God would choose to use me.

In addition to my work at PLC, I have also been working with a few babies and their parents in the homes. It has been such fun to help these parents 

Here are a few pictures from the Center:

Deep pressure helps me stay calm
I love playing in my body sock!
Wearing a weighted vest helps me to focus
Sensory play with food
Using iPads to learn all about cause and effect
All smiles!
Nothing beats water play!

Praising God for:

  • Safe travel to Romania
  • The generosity of the Vari family hosting me while I find an apartment
  • Friends here in Oradea who have made this adjustment so much easier
  • Opportunities to begin to develop relationships with children, parents and staff at PLC
  • My church here, BBSO, as well as my church family at Calvary Chapel Central (I love being able to "attend" church online)
  • My paperwork for a 5 year religious visa was accepted last week and I should be receiving it mid-August
  • Helping me endure the heat, despite not having air conditioning or fans

Pray with me for:
  • Finding an apartment/a place to call "home"
  • Continued relationship-building with PLC staff, parents and children
  • New opportunities to serve within the community as well as other cities in Romania
  • Upcoming travel to Brasov-10+ hour train ride 
  • Partnership with Cristal de Copii in Brasov- for the upcoming consultation with staff and parents
  • Reliable internet connection,  especially so I can stay connected to my mom and family
  • God to open a way for me to be able to return to Bucharest for a few days to visit Liviu, the little boy with whom I deeply connected over the past 4 years
As always, I am deeply grateful for your words of encouragement and prayers. I am thankful I am not called to travel this journey alone and am daily reminded that He uses others to sustain me.

Joyfully His,