Today is Romania's National Holiday, which means businesses are closed and I finally have a day off to get caught up on emails and write this long overdue blog. Fall has come to a quiet end here in Oradea. The trees are now barren and the brilliant colored leaves have been raked away. The days are becoming shorter and Christmas decorations now adorn the streets, shops and most homes. The changing of seasons from fall to winter brings a time of self reflection and a deeper longing for Jesus. And he gently reminds me all is made beautiful in His time. Join me as I reflect upon the beauty of the last three months.
September was a busy month as most of our children from PLC started gradinta (preschool). With the changes in scheduling, I began providing consultation 2 days a week in a special needs preschool and also started working with a few children individually. It has been a joy to watch the children progress and also have the opportunity to begin forming relationships with several of the parents.
The other big news was that I finally settled into my own apartment! I signed a 6 month lease on a 2 bedroom (650 square feet) apartment. So, visitors are welcome anytime! I am thankful for a quiet place to rest, space to entertain guests, having a real bed to fall into each night, being able to cook my own meals, and for having internet connection.
Casa dulce casa (home sweet home)
My October started in Baia Mare, a city 4 1/2 hours from Oradea, in the heart of Maramures. The month began with participating in Autism Baia Mare's 2-day National/International Conference 2015 "Accept me as I am". It was a huge honor to be asked to return again this year as a speaker and also a presenter for their one-day workshop. I had great fun educating therapists from all over Romania on practical strategies to promote self regulation skills in children with autism. We were a rather varied group of presenters and only 2 of us were "internationals", but we had the best camaraderie and such fun together.
After the 2 day conference, we (the presenters) were treated to a day of sightseeing, visiting some of the most beautiful places in Maramures. Maramures is widely regarded as Romania's most traditional area. Our stops included Sapanta (The Merry Cemetery), The Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance (Sighet Prison), and we ended our day visiting the magnificent Barsana Monastery. It was a beautiful-ugly-sobering kind of day. It was beautiful to see the lovely places, but the visit the memorial in Sighet was hard. To read the stories of people like Richard Wurmbrand (the founder of Voice of the Martyrs), but to stand in the place where those horrific events occurred was something quite sobering. It gave me a much deeper appreciation for those who stood up against communism.
The next morning, all the other presenters left for their homes and I began my week of consultation in Autism Baia Mare's clinics in both Baia Mare and Sighet. This is my third year collaborating with this center. It is such a nice treat to go somewhere where I have established relationships with most of the staff and know several of the children. The staff at Autism Baia Mare was eager to implement their newly learned strategies on self regulation as well as to learn how to use iPads more therapeutically.
One of the biggest highlights of my time in Baia Mare was spending time with Andreea, one of the center's office coordinators. as we drove from Baia Mare to Sighet. The nearly 2 hour journey afforded us lots of quality time in the car. Andreea asked me if I remembered the first time I visited their center. She reminded me of a passage in scripture I had shared with the group (Psalm 139). She went on to tell me how this impacted the way she looked at children with special needs and that she now she wants to share this hope with the parents. Amazing! Such a beautiful thing to see words spoken 3 years ago are making a difference. Not really surprising though. Just like the Bible says "for as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, a
Learning about Self Regulation
After arriving home from Baia Mare, I returned to PLC and also began seeing a few more children in their homes. A week later, I received a call from my good friend, Ciprian. He is now working at a center in Cluj, a city 3 hours from Oradea. He called to ask me to help write a small grant which would enable his work to purchase much needed therapy equipment, and would also allow for us to have collaboration. Unfortunately, we didn't get the grant, but I am praying about going to Cluj 2-3 days/month to help in his center anyway. While I was in Cluj, I also did a reassessment on a little boy I saw last year. One hour turned into nearly 4 hours as I quickly realized how much his mom was hurting. She has not come to acceptance with his diagnosis of autism and has little emotional support. Her husband left the marriage due to their son's disability. My heart aches as this seems to be such a familiar story. This again reminds me why I am here: to show His love to the broken.
The next Sunday I was privileged to attend the church dedication of my Romanian nephew, David Ionatan, and also celebrate his big brother Iosua's 7th Birthday. Their mommy, Ramona and their auntie Adela, have been like sisters to me since 1999. All of the children call me "Tusa" (Aunt) Dawn. So thankful for family in Romania!