Wednesday, September 2, 2015

August Update

Where's Dawn?: A Month of Travels

Trains, trains and more trains! I started the month with a 10 1/2 hour train ride from Oradea to the beautiful mountain town of Brasov.  Arriving a few days before I needed to start my consultation work with Copiii de Cristal Association,  I was able to visit my good friend and fellow missionary, Rachel Titiriga for the weekend and also do a little sightseeing around Brasov County, including seeing a few fortified churches and the impressive Fagaras Fortress. 

Black Church (Biserica Neagra), built in the 15th Century
Old City Center, Brasov
Old City Center, Brasov
Harman Fortified Church, 13th Century
Exploring Harman with Rachel, picture courtesy Rachel Titiriga
Sanpetru Fortified Church, Brasov County
Bod Fortified Church, Brasov County
Fagaras Fortress
Fagaras Fortress, built in 1310!
After having a few days of rest and rejuvenation, Monday arrived and I began my 10 days of consultation at Copiii de Cristal, a clinic/day center for children and adults with autism and other developmental delays. It was wonderful to return to this center as I had done a training there in January, but didn't have much time to help with implementation of the strategies I presented.  It was a joy to spend more concentrated time working one on one with the therapists as well as with the children and their families.  I am already looking forward to returning to do more work there in the near future.

Learning to incorporate tactile play
Games to help with body awareness
Adding some vestibular play during imitation
Working on improving proximal stability
Adding some "heavy work" into an obstacle course
Ball time makes therapy so fun!
On my last weekend in Brasov, I travelled to the nearby city of Sacele to visit with Nicu and Silvana Hagiu. Our time was limited,  but it was still sweet to spend time with these dear friends. Please be praying for them as they have recently started a home church and are seeking the Lord's direction on if they are to start a church in Brasov. 

Me with Silvana
Enjoying the Countryside near Sacele
In my last update, I had asked for prayers for me to be able to travel to Bucharest and visit my little friend, Liviu. Brasov to Bucharest is only a 2 1/2 hour train ride, much more realistic than the nearly 14 hour train ride from Oradea. I am happy to write that the prayers and intercession of many was indeed answered! Liviu and I got to spend a day at the WaterPark and then he was able to spend the night with me at the hotel. He was so happy to see me and kept telling me that he loved me! He loved being in the water as this is a place where he can truly move independently (with a tube of course). Hearing his giggles and squeals of delight as he splashed through the water made all the trials of getting here so worth it! Liviu also enjoyed getting to have his favorite foods: cartofi prajiti (french fries), pui de gratar (grilled chicken), and pepene rosu (watermelon). All the water play must have made him extra hungry, because he also ate most of my salad and then wanted dessert!
I was planning to say goodbye that evening, but I was then asked if I would like to keep him until the next day. Of course that question required no thinking before giving an answer :). However, the challenge then became to quickly find a hotel room suitable for his needs. Unfortunately, his chair does not fold compactly, thus we could not fit it into a taxi. In the end, I opted to take him in my arms (he has gotten so big, so this was a huge challenge).  Thankfully, we were able to find a a wonderful hotel with an elevator (a must) and a double bed (another must), and it even had air conditioning and a bathtub! Liviu was overjoyed to get to take a bath, play on my iPad, talk to my sister and mom on Facetime and also loved getting to sleep in a big bed.  It was a short visit, but I am thankful for every minute we were able to spend together!

At the WaterPark!

Pure JOY!
All smiles!

Bittersweet~ Saying Goodbye
Visiting Crina, Liviu's twin

After 3 days in Bucharest, it was time to get back on a train (13 1/2 hour night train) and head back home to Oradea to pick up my permis de sedere (5 Year Resident Permit). I am so thankful to have this process behind me and am especially thankful for my friend Ligia Pop who walked this journey with me, including standing in long lines and making multiple trips to the treasury/financial office to pay my taxes and insurance needed for the visa.

Legal for 5 Years!!!
August was a quiet month at Pyramid Learning Center (PLC) as many children and staff were on vacation. However, this provided me with more focused time to work with some of the therapists and children as well as with a few parents. I spent a good amount of time working with Alina, one of the therapists, on promoting fine motor skills. She has shown excellent follow through, resulting in one of the children learning to write his name.  I am so thankful to be working with such a dedicated and passionate team of therapists here at PLC.  My dear friend Ioana, the director of PLC, has recently started to come for a few hours at a time to supervise the staff. This means I get to spend more time playing with her almost 5 month old son, Elias. He is already loving ball time :)

Bondi writing "Alina" (his therapist's name)
Learning to write his name!
Ball time with Elias!

Luca is all smiles as he learns about "big and small"
Upon returning to Oradea, I was contacted by a mother of a child I worked with last year in Bucharest. She was writing an article on early intervention for her website and contacted me to see if I would be willing to write some words from a therapist's perspective. After I wrote the article, she responded with these words "...where were you seven years ago? We were fighting fears, loneliness, and storms over our faith. Words like yours are a blessing!". These words so encouraged me and reminded me WHY I am here. God will use us if we are willing vessels! She and her husband have another website,,  that is especially for families of children with disabilities. It is a place where they share stories in hopes of encouraging others and also a place that strives to make God's name known. They have invited me to also write on this website. I am excited to collaborate in this venture! They really honored me by translating the following quotes and putting them on their website. 

"Accept a child for who he is, but always help him to become all that he can be"

"Who are we to decide if a child will or won't benefit from therapy? Every life holds value. Every child deserves a chance to develop. Every family deserves to be given hope." 
A few months ago, I received a Facebook message from my friend Darla asking me how far Arad was from Oradea. It so happened her church in Pittsburg was sending a missions team to Arad and she was going to be part of the team. The train from Oradea to Arad is only 2 hours, so of course that meant traveling to Arad was very realistic. Her church team, as well as the church they were working with (Harvest Arad), warmly welcomed me to join them for a few days. I even helped out with manual labor as they were drywalling a new church/pastor's training center. Darla completely spoiled me by not only bringing me much needed supplies, but also lots of goodies for me and gifts from some of the women in my church back home (Calvary Chapel Central).

Darla made it to Romania!
Learning all about drywalling
Look at all these goodies!
Downtown Arad
Primaria, Mayor's Hall, Arad
The city was all decorated for Arad Days
So August has now come to a close. It was a busy and sometimes very tiring month with all the traveling. But it was also a wonderful month of seeing dear friends (and Liviu), making new ministry connections and experiencing more and more of His grace!

Join Me in Praise For:
  • Safe travels to Brasov, Bucharest, Oradea, Arad and back to Oradea
  • Answered prayers in getting to see Liviu
  • Receiving my 5 Year Resident Permit
  • Fruitful time at Copiii de Cristal in Brasov
  • I was able to put more data on my phone, so at least now I have some internet
  • Continued relationship building with PLC staff, children and parents
  • New bible study group, starting September 10th (this will give me much needed fellowship and also accountability)
Pray with Me For:
  • Finding an apartment (it has been more challenging then I expected)
  • Continued relationship-building with PLC staff, children and parents
  • Opportunities to connect with other therapists here in Romania, especially Oradea
  • Unity with the new bible study group, that we would seek Jesus together and encourage one another on our walk with Him (the person hosting this bible study is another missionary and the group will be a mixture of Americans and Romanians)
  • Upcoming international conference on autism (October 2-3): I will be presenting at the conference and also hosting a workshop on self-regulation

Joyfully His,


No comments: