It has been a lively two weeks and we apologize that our expected blog has taken a back seat. Ask any missionary and they will tell you that a happy missionary is a busy missionary. We are euphoric!
We have spent the last nine days with our new friends, the Jacksons, sent to us from Salt Lake City to give us direction developing a wheelchair project. Their official title is "Short Term Specialists" and they travel from their home in St, George all over Europe to develop projects. When a very complicated project is launched, the Humanitarian Services of the Church sends out back-up. This tactic helps to prevent humanitarian missionaries from jumping out of windows or taking up drinking (a bad example for a missionary). The Jacksons are "know-it-all's", and we mean that in a good way!
For those of you wondering what we are doing in Romania, here is a short expounding on how the Church gives away wheelchairs.
Since 2001, the Church has distributed more than 300,000 wheelchairs, worldwide. We will help to distribute 750 in Romania in 2010.
We offer a variety of wheelchairs, depending on the need, from "pushers" like you would see in hospitals to "rough terrain" that would be self-propelled over curbs, cracked streets, and tree roots. Wheelchairs are shipped in and then consigned to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) for final distribution.
This is where we come in. Our job is to find a great organization that shares our goals of self-sufficiency and a list of other virtues. We work closely with this NGO from assisting in securing the shipment papers to final distribution to the disabled individual. Getting the right wheelchair to the right recipient is of utmost importance.
The project we developed with the Jacksons involves importing 250 specialty wheelchairs and organizing a three-day training workshop where Physical Therapists from the US will train Romanian organization representatives to properly adjust and prescribe wheelchairs. The training will take place in Cluj, about 300 miles from us and is scheduled for the end of August.
Every detail of this shipment and training was worked out over the last nine days.
The pictures below tell the story.
Here we are with Doug and Delene Jackson. They are amazing (and very spunky, for their age!).
This is what our dining room table looked like for a week.
Here we are visiting our Partner and NGO in Cluj. Sally Wood-Lamont will import the wheelchairs.
Doug Jackson is explaining a Power-Point.
Wheelchair users are a great resource to increase our understanding of what is needed. Mihai was involved in all our meetings.
This is another meeting that was held in Turda to discuss what was needed by the disabled.
Our translator, Aura was a valuable addition to the meeting.
This is Cristian Ispas, one of our trusted NGO's who is currently distributing a shipment.
Here we are posing in front of Motivation Romania, one of our partners.
Did I mention that the Jacksons made this whole experience a barrel of laughs? It' true.
As the grand finale, a blizzard blew in for the final two days of the Jackson's visit. They loved it! Delene had a good excuse to buy new boots and Doug learned the fine art of "scarf-wrapping".
After the Jackson's left, we finalized the project and submitted to to Welfare Services in Salt Lake. Then, we went to bed early!
We figured we spent:
8 hours in stressful meetings
12 hours traveling
42 hours in front of our computers
Countless hours discussing the details.
We generated 120 emails, ate 3 loaves of bread, cheese, crackers, salami, chocolate, and an undisclosed number of liters of Neagru Elixir.
We had a blast and we would do it all over again, but only with the Jacksons!
This is our Mission! We love being here. We love the people. We love being Humanitarian Missionaries.
P.S It snowed another 5" yesterday. It's MARCH, for Heaven's sake!