3rd and 4th Week in Romania

Buna Ziua!
Wow there is so much to say and so much to be thankful for these last couple of weeks! First of all, I can't believe that I have been here for a month! Time definitely flies when you are having fun and working hard. It is kind of a bittersweet reality because I'm definitely excited to go home, and yet I have come to feel very comfortable here and I love the kids I work with. The girls from previous semesters told us that it would go by fast and I definitely believe them now. I don't even know where to start and last week Mckay told me that my email was too long, so I'll try and cut down a little. It might still be a novel, but it will be a smaller one.
So we got into the orphanage last week and at first we just went around all of the different rooms. There are a couple of different sections in the orphanage and each has a Disney name. There is Donald Duck, which is also called isolation. There is Mickey Mouse, which has two rooms. And there is Bambi, which also has two rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. The first day we just spent a couple of minutes in each room getting a feel for the kids and the workers. It was so great that first day to see all of the kids and to know that we were actually finally going to be working there! The next couple of days we moved around quite a bit. There are a couple of apartments in Iasi that have 4-5 kids that live in them. They are kind of like a branch of the orphanage and sometimes these kids will come and visit the orphanage. We visited two of them last week and then on Thursday we were back in the orphanage. Thursday we told our facilitator where we would like to be working so that she could decide where to put each girl. It was so hard to choose a room that I liked the best and I wanted to be in the room that Heavenly Father wanted me in. Friday morning we found out what rooms we were to be in after we got to the orphanage. It was a tense exciting moment! I found out that I would be working in the room that I wanted to work in! My room is one of the Mickey Mouse rooms and there are quite a few kids (they have kept me busy!). It was kind of intimidating walking in the first day because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fill the full three hours. But, so far so good. We just finished our first full week of working in the orphanage and I feel so close to the ones I work with. A couple of the children in my room are very smart, they just have handicapped bodies. This makes it easier to figure what they need and what they want, but at the same time it is harder because if I can't deliver or I don't understand what they are saying they get frustrated. It's hard to tell them no, and yet it has to be done sometimes. I hope they still know that I love them! There is a little girl that I princess Larissa. She is in a wheel chair but she can move around quite a bit when she is taken out and she is very talkative. She loves to mimic things I say and even knows popcorn popping in English. She's a character and keeps me busy. There is a little boy who's name is Alex and he is 9 yrs old. He has cerebral palsy, which is what I did a research paper on, so I have been spending time with him and trying to work with him. He can't speak, but he is very very smart, and is said to be the highest functioning child in the orphanage. To communicate he uses his eyes. It is the cutest thing to see him look at me and then look at my pocket and then look back up at me. I don't understand what he wants all the time but he'll do it again and again until I get it. There are a couple of toddler age kids in my room too. They are fun to play with because I don't always have to talk to them and I can just sit and play with them and I know that they like it. One day I was playing with Alex and Larissa on the mats because they had both gotten out of their wheelchairs. Alex was on top of me (he finds it hysterical to smash me) and Lari was on the side of me and then the little ones came and up and started tackling me too. I was struggling to breathe there were so many kids on top of me. It was so much fun though because all of the kids were laughing hysterically. They really got a kick out of it. Overall the orphanage is great and I really enjoying going every morning. So far I haven't had any problems with any of the workers, lets hope they continue to like me.
The hospital is just as great as the orphanage. It isn't as structured as the orphanage and we don't always work with the same children either. There are eight floors in the hospital that are allowed to work on. We go to each floor and ask the nurses if they have any children who don't have mothers. Usually they say yes and then we are allowed to go and play with them. We always bring diapers for the kids and anything else that we think they might like to play with. Some of them actually do have parents but they can't always be there and that's where we come in. The hospital rooms usually have 3 or 4 other babies in them with their moms and there are windows on both sides of the rooms that look into the rooms next to it. There is nothing private at all about the hospital and it is pretty primitive. The moms will sometimes talk to us and try and help us understand what the nurses or saying or what someone else is saying. They are really great and a lot of fun to get to know. Sometimes they will just stare at us and moms from other rooms will come in and stare at us too. It's a little awkward, but they're harmless so it's just funny. There isn't much ventilation in the hospital because they don't really believe in opening the windows so every time I go in I feel like I am breathing pure germs, it's not a very comforting thought so I try not to think about it, but I haven't gotten sick yet either so I'm very grateful and I will keep going until I do get sick. The language is coming along, but very slowly….haha people still sometimes laugh at us when we try and speak Romanian. The other day one of the girls was in a taxi telling the driver where she wanted to go. He said something to her and she had no idea what she was saying so she just repeated where she wanted to go again. This happened several times and she just kept saying where she wanted to go. Finally he pointed to the seatbelt and indicated that she needed to put it on. We were talking about this later that night and we compared it to a tourist in New York. The cab driver would say put on your seatbelt and the tourist would say Empire State building and would keep repeating it every time the cab driver said something. He would definitely think the guy was crazy. We are pretty sure that everyone here thinks we are weird and somewhat stupid because we always repeat the same thing. My favorite phrases in Romanian are Nu inteleg (I don't understand), nu stiu (I don't know), and nu vorbesc romaneste (I don't speak Romanian). They are probably asking me a super simple question like what is your name and I'm saying nu stiu, nu stiu….I can only imagine what is going through their heads. ☺
Each week on Sunday we have a group a meeting where we talk about our highs and lows of the week and plan for the next week. I love these meetings because we get to just sit and relax and get to know each other better. As I had time to think about what I was going to say as my high and low I realized that I didn't really have a low for the week. I kept trying to think of one, but nothing came to mind. I find that the longer I am here and the more attached I become to the kids the less time I have to think of myself and my problems. It's also easy to forget about my problems when I see so many around me that are struggling more than I am. I have always been told that when we lose our self in the work and serve others we don't think about ourselves, but I have never really had an experience of my own like this and I am so grateful for this realization. I have also found that the spirit comes more readily when I am working with these beautiful children. It always seems to be at my fingertips and there to guide me in working with the kids. It is a great feeling. At times when I encounter something heartbreaking the spirit is always there so that even though it is sad moment it is also a happy moment because the spirit is present. Does that make sense? Anyway, I am so grateful for the Lord and for his awareness of me and the children that I am working with. I couldn't do it without him! Please pray for these wonderful children and their little spirits!

Cu drag,
Jessica
xoxoxo