Thursday, August 30, 2018

Summer 2018 Wrap-Up

Summer 2018 Wrap-Up
June-August 2018
Summer Fun!
It's hard to believe that summer is over! The months fly by when we are busy each day with summer camps. We started the summer in Nenciulești with the little kids from Roșiori. Then we did two teen boys camps, two teen girls camps, a camp in Alexandria with the girls from the special school, three camps for the kids from Periș and Voluntari, and an arts camp for a grand total of 10 camps! We had an amazing time with our pirate themed curriculum that looked at the life of Peter. 
What Comes Next...
Now that summer ministry has wrapped up we are prepping for fall activities. I will be leading Character Classes, small groups, and individual therapy sessions at both Periș and Voluntari orphanages. I'm looking forward to what the new school year holds for each of the kids that I will be working with!
Special Thanks
I would like to give a HUGE thank you to Grace Baptist Church and to anyone who donated to my grandfather's memorial fund. Thanks to the special donations that we received we were able to purchase a new printer and two new whiteboards for your ministry. Thank you for your support!
Giving and Support Information
As many of you probably know, I am planning to extend my stay here in Romania past my initial three year commitment. I pray that you will prayerfully consider supporting my ministry in the years to come. If you are already giving there is no need to "recommit"; simply continue with your monthly giving plan as established. If you would like to begin supporting me, please use the link below to visit Heart to Heart's giving page and start your giving plan today!
Prayer and Praise
Praises:
  • Successful summer ministry
  • Heather and I were able to visit three of our kids who are at the orphanage in Săftica. Two were moved there due to behavior issues and the third is there because she is pregnant. We are very grateful for the opportunity to continue to minister to these kids.
  • We have already begun the process for preparing for summer ministry 2019!
  • Continue to have good, open relationships with the caretakers and directors at all the orphanages.
Prayer Requests:
  • Fall ministry planning
  • Ionela T. (at Săftica), she is 16 and will give birth to her first child in just a few weeks. Pray that we will know how best to guide her throughout this process.
  • School starts on September 10th for our kiddos!
  • We have received word that there may be renovations on the back building that we use for our programs. Please pray that any issues with space and the renovation would be resolved and that we will continue to have adequate room for our programs.
  • This month we have had many kids placed in foster homes or who have gone back to live with their biological parents. We pray for smooth transitions, good care, that this is truly the best for them, that the families would feel supported, and that we can continue to keep in touch with the kids. Also, please pray for our peace as we often do not have a chance to say good-bye to these kids or even know they are leaving until after they are gone.

May Update

May Update: Parties and Prep
May 2018
Party Time!
May was a month of celebration! Heather and I were able to take our most faithful attendees from the Junior Youth Group and Bible Class from Peris and the Voluntari Youth Group to church and then to our house for pizza, games, and s'mores. The kids had a great time and we love hanging out with them and having them experience worship at our church.
Prepping for Summer
This month we also amped up preparation for summer ministry. This year the theme is Aye Aye, Captain! The original curriculum idea came from Hume Lake camps and Heather and I spent the spring adapting it for our youth camps and younger kids day camps.
We are super excited that this year we will be hosting the youth camps at our house at Snagov! We will be having a four day overnight camp for the boys followed by a four day overnight camp for the girls. The kids will sleep in tents and Steven Perez, a former Heart to Heart staff member, will be the lead speaker. We are thrilled to see what God has in store for our youth!
Giving and Support Information
As many of you probably know, I am planning to extend my stay here in Romania past my initial three year commitment. I pray that you will prayerfully consider supporting my ministry in the years to come. If you are already giving there is no need to "recommit"; simply continue with your monthly giving plan as established. If you would like to begin supporting me, please use the link below to visit Heart to Heart's giving page and start your giving plan today!
Prayer and Praise
Praises:
  • Praise the Lord for our interns who arrived this month. We appreciate so much their good work ethic, willingness to pitch in, and positive attitudes. They have breathed a breath of fresh air into our ministry.
  • Character Classes have finished for the year and the kids have shown improvement in being able to regulate their emotions and be more self-aware. In fact, on their post test, 42% of the kids showed an improvement over their pre-test scores! This seems to indicate that the kids are more self-aware, better able to control their emotions, more empathetic to others, and have better social relationships.
  • Life Skills sessions are going very well. Some of the kids who initially struggled to maintain attention for even 20 minutes are now participating in 45 minute sessions! And all the kids seem to be doing better at talking about how they are feeling and identifying coping skills they can use to help regulate their emotions.
Prayer Requests:
  • Summer ministry gets kicked off in just a few short weeks! Our first camp will be in Rosiori with the young kids there. There are still many things to prep and organize before we can head out but I am excited about how things are shaping up and pray that this will be our best summer yet.
  • The others interns as they arrive and the Reno and Wave teams as they come to help us.
  • Pray for our kids who are developing a deeper understanding and more personal relationships with Christ. They so often come under attack from Satan and we pray that they will be strengthened and stand firm in their faith.
  • Pray for the kids, directors, orphanage staff, and team members that we will be ministering to during camps. Pray that the kids will have open hearts and minds and that the words we speak will fall on fertile soil. Pray that the directors and orphanage staff will be cooperative and will work with us and that schedules will not get too crazy. Pray that the team members will have good attitudes and be willing to jump in and serve. And please pray for Heather and I as we lead the camps. Pray that we will have the wisdom needed to handle and problems or challenges as they come up, that we will take care of ourselves and will delegate tasks appropriately, and that we will create an atmosphere for God to work in the hearts of our kids.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Love is in the air...

It's so good to be back in Romania! There was lots of love this month...not just because we celebrated Valentine's Day but also because the kids were ready to share their love with me again after being gone on furlough.

Sunday mornings continue to be one of my favorite times with the kids and it was good to get back into the program that Heather and I had initially set of worship music, weekly Bible story review, and then prayer stations. We always have some amazing moments with the kids during this time where they share parts of their story that we have never heard, share how they are truly feeling, or show their trust in and desire for God in unexpected ways.
Life Skills (therapy) sessions and Character Classes continue to go well. Many of the kids are showing improvement both in and out of sessions. It is huge blessing to be able to work with other Heart to Heart staff members who are willing to help enforce boundaries and procedures that help the kids deal with their emotions in a positive way.

While I was in the States I took a training to become a Certified Anger Management Specialist. As part of the training I need to lead several anger management groups over the next six months. I have started two groups at Voluntari, one with four younger kids and one with three older boys. The older boys in particular have really enjoyed the group and have even asked that we continue for "5 months" (their exact words)!
Even though there is still snow on the ground, summer planning is already under way! Heather and I have been meeting weekly with Jen and Jenny to begin talking about curriculum, themes, interns, and teams. It is exciting to have the ball rolling so early in the year and we hope and pray that it will mean a smoother, more enjoyable summer for everyone involved.
Coming up in March...
Character Classes, Life Skills sessions, Sunday morning praise and prayer, Anger Management groups, Youth Groups, and Bible Class will continue throughout March. At the end of March we will be welcoming the CCC and Mission Possible teams. We also have a gathering for the transition graduates planned for later in March.

Giving and Support Information
As many of you probably know, I am planning to extend my stay here in Romania past my initial three year commitment. I pray that you will prayerfully consider supporting my ministry in the years to come. If you are already giving there is no need to "recommit"; simply continue with your monthly giving plan as established. If you would like to begin supporting me, please use the link below to visit Heart to Heart's giving page and start your giving plan today.

God is doing amazing things in and through me here in Romania. I would not be here today without everyone's love and support. Thank you for all that you do! I look forward to continuing to share about my ministry for many years to come.

Prayer Requests/Praises
Praises:
  • I was able to start Anger Management classes at Voluntari.
  • Our Bible teaching programs have gotten back on schedule.
  • Summer planning is already underway and we are already making progress in several areas.
  • Life Skills sessions and Character Classes are continuing to go well and we are continuing to notice progress with several kids.
Prayer Requests:
  • Continue to pray for our kids, especially at Periș, as they are beginning to become more open and willing to share their stories with us. We are seeing lots of really positive changes taking place and pray that the kids, and we as well, will be protected from Satan's attacks. Pray that the kids will continue to seek Christ and that we will be able to provide them with constancy, stability, and a feeling of safety.
  • Pray for times when we as staff can get rest and refueling and that we will stay in a healthy mindset.
  • Pray for summer ministry and that doors will open (or close) as needed to provide our kids with opportunities to meet with God and grow their relationship with Him.
  • Pray that I will continue to make connections with other mental health professionals here in Romania.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Planning, Planning, Planning

Now that fall is right around the corner (hopefully...it's been very hot here in Romania) it's time to start getting ready for our school year programming. The kids started back to school this Monday, the 11th, and we've had a chance to start talking to the teachers and caregivers about our plans.

I will be conducting large group Character Classes at both Voluntari and Periș. In the spring we focused on building emotional intelligence and learning to identify emotions. This fall we will be learning about how to communicate our emotions effectively and how to cope with strong emotions.
Making some handouts for Character Class. I'll give these out to kids who I notice appropriately handling their emotions throughout the week.
One of the things I look forward to most about school year programs is meeting one on one for counseling sessions with kids. This is where we look at issues they are facing and try to process them and develop healthy ways of dealing with the myriad of situations they face. I'll be working with kids who struggle with depression, anxiety, ADHD, adjustment disorder, and host of other issues this fall. I love working with the kids and developing the one on one relationship as well as seeing them grow and learn.
I think I'm going to need a bigger binder for all my resources!
This fall Heather and I will be starting some new Bible classes at the orphanages. We are introducing a Junior Youth Group at both Periș and Voluntari as we have many pre-teens who are entering into an impressionable stage in their lives. We are hoping to provide them with a Biblical knowledge base that will lead them as they enter their teen years.

We are also starting a Bible Class with the youngest kids at Periș. After summer camps this year we felt a strong leading to continue building on what these little ones had begun to learn. Since this was the first year at our summer camps for over half of our littlest kiddos it was also the first time that some of them had been exposed to God's Word in a meaningful way.

Finally, we are hoping to begin a Sunday morning program with the kids at Periș. We would have a time of singing and prayer and also a time of review of the things they had learned in Bible Class and Youth Group during the week.
Sami and I from earlier in the summer. I'm praying that he will get involved in some of the activities we are starting in the fall.
As I worked through all the ministry plans that I have in mind for the fall I realized that my work here in Romania is only just beginning. I have been encouraged by the growth that I have seen over my first two years here but I am praying to continue it well on into the future. This depends, of course, on a number of factors including continued financial support. I have been abundantly blessed these past two years with amazing supporters and I pray that my support team will stay strong and continue to grow. In addition, I must say that without the prayers of many people around the world I would not have the strength to keep going. The words of encouragement that I receive are what keeps me positive when times are tough. I love serving with Heart to Heart and I love working with our kids. If you would like to join me on this grand adventure, whether through prayer, giving, or even serving on a short term trip, please check out h2hint.org for more information or send me a message here or on Facebook.

Continue to keep Heather, myself, our kids, and our other staff members in your prayers as we enter into this next season of serving!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer Catch Up

I know that I am woefully behind on updating the blog. I will try to be better about staying on top of things in the future but, in the meantime, check out the link below to view my summer newsletter to read all about our summer camps.

http://conta.cc/2vEsJ6p

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Building Emotional Intelligence

In Character Classes we have been working on building emotional intelligence for about a month. This means that the kids have been learning about different emotions and what they look like, sound like, and feel like.
Character Class at Voluntari.
Every week I read a story about a different emotion and then the kids complete a page in their "Feelings Files" booklet. So far we have covered happiness, anger, sadness, and fear. We will be learning about embarrassment this coming week.
Learning about anger.
Many of the kids have never stopped to think about the complexities of these different emotions. However, by beginning to think deeper about emotions they are actually beginning to identify their own feelings in various situations. I help this process by starting every class asking each child individually, "How do you feel today?" and "Why?" Of course, I always share how I'm feeling, even if it's not always a good feeling, because I want the kids to see how I identify my emotions and that all emotions are ok.
An example of the kids beginning to identify their emotions. They stated they would feel bad, empty in their stomach, and cold if someone cussed at them. These are sensations we have associated with sadness!
I really like having the opportunity to process with a child who might be feeling upset. I can reassure them that their feeling is valid and that it is ok to feel that way. I can also remind them that feeling upset is not the problem, how they choose to react to their feelings is the most important thing to think about. Last week I had the chance to praise a child for being able to move past a challenging situation and continue on in class without a problem.
Darius working on a picture of a sad monster.
Being able to talk about how they are feeling is so important for our kids. A lot of them express their emotions through anger and violence when they are really feeling sad, lonely, hurt, and confused. When they are able to identify their true feelings then God can really start to work on those parts of their heart.
Learning about sadness.
Please continue to pray that God will open the hearts of the kids to His healing. I am blessed to be a part of this process daily!