Friday, December 25, 2009
This year we have another reason to celebrate. December 2009 marks our 15th year serving as field personnel through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We are grateful for those who have supported us from the very beginning and those who have joined us along the journey. God continues to guide us in this ministry among the Romany and we look forward to what the future brings. "Joy to the World, the Saviour Reigns!"
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Many of you contributed, by volunteering, by praying, by donating funds, by supporting the Offering for Global Missions which keeps us in the field . . . for the long haul. Thank you, one and all.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Recently while strolling through the Budapest market I noticed two Roma men collecting trash. They weren't just collecting it, they were going through it. They were searching for scraps of food or bits they could slavage to use another way, perhaps as income. Times are economically hard right now for many people, including the Romany. Please pray for them as winter comes and they struggle to keep their homes warm. Pray for adequate clothing and good health as we deal with the flu season. Thank you for your faithfulness and devotion of prayer for the Romany.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
With the Ruth School and the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training School, that is...
The Ruth Center was abuzz with activity this past week. The November session of the Gypsy Smith School was held with 15 leaders from across Romania attending. Glen Adkins taught on worship while Ralph Stocks taught from the gospel of Mark. This marked the 12th session for Sorin and we celebrated with him in a recognition service on Thursday night. That morning Clista Adkins and Tammy Stocks prepared a banquet of snack foods for the GSS students. We laughed when Mona, Project Ruth staff member, had to explain what dip was and demonstrate how to dip veggies and chips. The food was a bit strange but the men gathered around to eat until only crumbs were left. Throughout the week the halls were alive with singing and accordion music.
GSS was not the only show in town, however. Clista and Tammy provided a Staff Appreciation week for the hardworking Project Ruth employees and teachers. The walls were sprinkled with signs of encouragement and thanks for the jobs they do. Each day the staff received a little appreciation gift of fruit, candy, pencils, or a water bottle with a message of love attached. On Tuesday the Ruth School teachers had their own tea time. "All of this is for us?" is the question we heard over and over. The Ruth students helped us by designing pages for booklets for their teachers. There were lots of smiles and hugs were abundant as we passed out decorated baskets of school supplies. The director, Tita, thanked us by saying the staff felt blessed by the attention and enjoyed it. It was our pleasure to encourage them in their vital role of teaching the Roma children of the neighborhood.
As Thanksgiving nears, please join us in thanking God for this ministry and the people who serve through it. Ask Him to continue to send good people to teach and work at Project Ruth. Ask Him to continue to provide the financial resources for its provision.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The events of twenty years ago are echoing across the television as specials remind us of the failure of Communism. The fall of "the Wall" became symbolic of new opportunties throughout Europe. New walls are symbolic that there is more work to be done.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
One never knows what is going to happen--particularly when one volunteers to go to Moldova.
Willem Jan Oosterkamp, from our home church in the Netherlands, came to give advice on a hydroponic fish-and-vegetable project. He did not expect to end up as one of the honored guests at a Romany birthday party--complete with singing, accordian music, and a regular feast.
As earlier volunteer George Bowling noted, "I told my wife I was eating food that I didn't recognize with people who spoke a language I didn't know. And I was loving it!"
We think Willem Jan enjoyed himself, too. And he was also quite helpful when it came to the fish.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Today we are able to freely move into most of these former communist countries and be the presence of Christ among many people who remember when there was no freedom of worship. We have personnel in Hungary, Slovakia, Macedonia, and Ukraine. We have partnerships in Moldova, Romania, Albania, and Bulgaria - just to name a few.
Let's give God thanks for bringing this wall down. Rejoice that those oppressed are now free. However, many continue to live in darkness. Ask Him to provide the people and resources to help spread the Good News of freedom in His love.
photo courtesy of cnn
Thursday, November 5, 2009
We were flying from Amsterdam via Budapest to Chisenau, the capital of Moldova, on Malev, Hungarian Airlines. We checked in at the self-check-in kiosk. While dropping our luggage off at the KLM desk (they handle Malev check-in there), the woman at the desk notices that our final destination is Moldova. She pulls up the information and starts reading every line to make sure everything’s in order to get to this country that she’s barely heard of. It just so happens that the passport she’s holding in her hand at the time is our daughter Rebecca’s. She informs us that passports must be valid for 6 months past the time of travel there. We knew we needed to renew our Dutch residents’ permits this summer and planned to check the whole passport thing then. However, the girls’ passports expire in March, only 5 months away. At first she thought none of us could go. Then, when she saw Mary and Keith’s passports were valid for another 5 years, she thought the adults could go but the girls couldn’t.
We quickly began thinking of alternate plans. Fortunately, Keith had the McNary’s phone number on his cell phone. Shane gave him the Stocks’ number in Budapest. Yes, Ralph said, he could pick up the girls if they couldn’t enter Moldova.
The lady behind the desk heard all of this. The girls have legal residence permits for the European Union which includes Hungary. She phoned someone higher up to get permission for us all to fly to Hungary (and then, presumably, we adults would fly further). This was granted, but then she wanted to cancel the girls’ reservations to Moldova. We asked her not to, which led to another 10-minutes of phone calls. She made a note on the computer record that KLM had already told us the girls would not be allowed to fly on to Moldova.
We checked all the bags only to Budapest because some repacking would be necessary if our party split, and we didn’t have time for that there. Safely on the flight to Budapest, Keith discovered Malev’s route flew to Iasi, Romania, near the border with our final destination in Moldova. If necessary, he could fly with the girls to Romania and then cross the border by land. Therefore, Mary would go ahead to Chisenau while Keith and the girls sorted things out in Budapest.
Due to all the time at the check-in in Amsterdam, two of our bags didn’t arrive in Budapest. The two that did, providentially, contained the things Mary needed to repack to go further. Mary headed off to Chisenau while Keith filled out the forms for the missing bags. He then went to the Malev ticket office to explained why three of the party had missed the flight to Chisenau. The lady there reticketed us for the night flight, 9:45 departure, 12:30 arrival. This seems to have deleted the warning note KLM had put on the ticket.
The next flight from Amsterdam had our missing bags. After more paperwork, we took a taxi to Ralph & Tammy’s house for a relaxing evening. At 8 Ralph took us back to the airport. The place looked deserted. Finally, after 20 minutes, someone showed up to open up a desk. Check in was no problem. The passport control in Chisenau stamped all three passports without comment, and all was well.
Moral of the story: check your passports and carry colleagues’ phone numbers.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Gypsy team is blessed to have Judy and Rick Landon as our member care providers. They do an excellent job of keeping up with us and our various ministries. They are always willing to listen and give counsel with encouragement when needed. Through CBF's guidance, the Landons visit our homes yearly or as funds permit, to see in person how we are doing. Recently Judy and Rick made a swing through central and eastern Europe. It was fun to have them since they have been friends of ours, the Stocks, for several years. We talked about many subjects, ate some good Hungarian food, and in the picture provided you can see Rick speaking at one of our Hungarian Gypsy churches.
Thank you Rick and Judy for volunteering to be on our team and being our friends. Thank you CBF for being proactive in caring for our health.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
After dubbing the Narrator part for the Roma version, Shane and Keith returned to Košice for an afternoon appointment with another Slovak speaker. Fortunately, a guy Shane knew from several years ago was willing to dub one of the smaller parts, leaving only the Slovak Narrator and Boaz parts undubbed.
That's when the kindest of friends came to the rescue. Shane had already arranged for the Slovak Narrator, which will be dubbed on a future visit by Keith. When the Bán family was told that the project still lacked one Slovak voice, they offered to help as soon as they got home from an evening program at church. After arriving back at the Bán's home later, Keith set up his equipment and was able to get the part of Boaz dubbed into Slovak!
In all, twelve parts were recorded on this trip - a full one-third of what is needed to complete the project. Pray for Keith as he travels home to Holland for several days and then as he travels to the Czech Republic to record the Czech voices and more Roma voices. Pray for Shane as he contacts Believers in the Czech Republic who will serve as actors. And praise the Lord for a wonderful experience of working together!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
They decided to use the standardized Roma dialect for Slovakia instead of a regional dialect, feeling there are more pros to using this dialect than there are cons. In addition to Roma language, they decided to include Slovak and Czech languages along with subtitles for each language. This will make the video not only a ministry tool for use in churches, it could also be useful in educational settings.
After getting the script translated into the three different languages, Shane began recuiting an ecumenical group of Believers who were willing to lend their voices to this project. Roma from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Slovaks, and Czechs are all working together to complete this exciting project.
Shane went to Krakow, Poland to pick up Keith yesterday and today they spent all afternoon dubbing the Slovak language version of the video! It was a GREAT beginning. In total, eight of the twelve Slovak parts were recorded today. They will record another two or three tomorrow. They will also travel an hour north-west of Košice to record the narrator for the Roma language version.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
If a picture is worth a thousand words, we must have at least a million here! These are pictures of the recent Choir Tour of the Gandhi Roma High School in Pecs, Hungary. The choir is led by CBF field personnel, Glen Adkins with his wife, Clista, serving as his assistant. After looking at the pictures, read the next four posts below this one for the "rest of the story" in Clista's own words. It was a wonderful experience for all involved in so many ways. Thank you for praying and supporting this ministry. (To read all the blog entries you may have to hit "older posts" at the bottom of the page.)
Thanks to Ralph Stocks, Roma Baptist House-churches were our hosts and invited people and neighbors from their communities. You can see from the pictures that most of the performances were outside in dirt yards and that people gathered inside and outside the fences and against the walls. The Gandhi girls and guys looked wonderful in their traditional or black clothing. The program was a choir performance with some Christian testimony and a little extra Gandhi recruitment thrown into the mix.
The choir was wonderful. Joshua, Sanyi, Szabi, Istvan, and Peti played their instruments like pros. Andi, Andi (a second one), Laura, Peter, Nelli, and Marian all sang outstanding solos even when they were competing against village church bells, roving Gypsy children and adults, and sweltering heat. Nelli and Marian stepped in at the last minute when Klaudia, our original soloist, was robbed the night before the trip and couldn’t accompany us because she had no official “papers”. They went right up to the microphone and sang as if they’d been doing it for months! Trey Harper (Truett Divinity School) also sang one of Klaudia’s solos, so the choir and the audiences had a treat in hearing Trey. At every performance, these girls and guys were just stupendous. People enjoyed the music so much that they clapped, sang along, and danced—even the really old people!
In addition to the captivating music, Ricsi (rising 12th grader) and Szilvi (rising 11th grader) agreed to share their testimonies as believers at each performance. What a gift!! We were amazed how readily they agreed when Glen asked them. To give their testimonies in front of their many non-believing peers was truly courageous for both Ricsi and Szilvi. Their testimonies were brief, strong, and beautiful. I was so proud of them that I almost yelled “Bravo” every time! In addition, Laci (university student, Gandhi graduate/teacher, and translator) spoke of his years at Gandhi and university, and Marika (Roma teacher at Gandhi) spoke about the Gandhi School and the possibilities for Roma children from the NE. Since the performances were packed with parents, teens, and children, perhaps a few of those will find their way to Gandhi somewhere down the road.
The Gandhi students were charmed by the city of Kosice, interested in the walking tour of the old city, and fascinated by the Gypsy beggar children who followed us down the street. Although they tried in Hungarian and two dialects of Romani, the students couldn’t ask about these Roma because no one could speak Slovakian! The fascination lasted until the little boys started grabbing at the female students. At that point, I had to step in and take charge. It was an interesting experience.
After lunch and shopping, we traveled to the village of Jasov to sing in a nice Roma school (K-12). The Gandhi students scattered, trying to see everything about this different Roma school before they changed into performance clothes. As they gathered in the dining room of the school for the performance, they wondered why the crowd was so small. The Roma leader (Oto—friend of the McNarys) explained that locals were afraid to venture out into public venues because of anti-Roma incidents in the area. Determined to continue, the choir performed very well. Jaro was a wonderful translator and the small audience responded enthusiastically to the music, so we had a nice afternoon. Then, we were all rewarded with a lovely Slovakian dinner hosted by Oto.
After another warning from Oto about driving with a bus of Roma teens through the Slovakian countryside, we headed directly back into Hungary. I know that I felt a profound sense of relief when we pulled up to the Sarokhaz Pension on the outskirts of Budapest.
garnishes, no less) served by nice young women, was a roaring success. I don’t know when I have seen young people have more fun and feel more luxurious than those young people on that Legenda Boat for one hour!
After all that luxury, we had to scurry off the boat and race through a harried Burger King meal so that we could climb ten flights of stairs in an ancient graffiti-decorated building to sing the final performance in a dark roof-top club. What seemed like a disaster-waiting-to-happen at 7:00p.m. turned into a totally satisfying performance and perfect ending to the six-day tour. The young adults in the audience loved the music and applauded
enthusiastically at every strategic point. The choir and musicians left feeling justifiably proud of themselves.
You were evident all week. If you had the time to go through the pictures, you would see every mission team t-shirt (FBC Huntsville, Campbell Univ. English camp, Northminster Baptist English camp, FBC Greenville, FBC Augusta) — more than once. You would see our chaperone Eszter (Gandhi graduate and Gandhi Social Worker, now) wearing her “Valássz” necklace every day. So thank you. Thank you for your prayers, your gifts, your money, your encouragement, your interest, your enthusiasm, and your time. Without you, this trip would have been only a dream. For many of these students, it was a life-changing and life-affirming experience. A low-budget choir trip around NE Hungary and into Slovakia may seem inconsequential to modern Americans, like a trip around northern South Carolina and into North Carolina. However, it was a priceless opportunity for these students. You gave them a physical, spiritual, and emotional gift that they will remember and talk about for the rest of their lives. They loved it. They have the stories and pictures to prove it! So, thank you!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Result? "Their departure had to raise discouragement other members."
Response? "Therefore we chose to strengthen fellowship among members. Putting me task to encourage like that Acts 2 says '. . . they devoted themselves to fellowship . . . they were together in one place . . . and taking food (together).'
They meet together one evening a week in different homes. They read the Bible, study the theme "importance of attitude in our lives," share food, and sing.
Some suggest that the credit crisis is the symptom of a moral and spiritual crisis. If so, then perhaps this spiritual, morale, and material response is one of the best?
Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Of great concern for us was hearing about the increase in anti-Roma sentiment in the area. Though the deadly violence which is becoming more common in other areas has not yet reached Slovakia, recently there have been protests by radical right-wing extremist groups against the Roma living in Slovakia. The rise of these groups poses a real threat.
The English-language newspaper in Slovakia, the Slovak Spectator, recently featured a hopeful interview focusing on the situation of the Roma in Europe. The article, entitled An apology would change everything, provides a glimpse into the history and hopefully future of the Roma in Europe.
Pray for us and all our colleagues as we minister among these hated minorities. Pray that justice will be found for the Roma and that as a people, they continue to grow into valued members of the countries which they call home.
Friday, August 14, 2009
It's a wonderful story and really not ours to tell... Andy Brockbank met Oti Bunaciu, Project Ruth founder, at Oxford. Later Andy would show up on Oti's doorstep, during the early days of Project Ruth, volunteering to help out for 18 months. Now, over 10 years later, with a wife and two sons, Andy is moving on. (Ask Andy or Oti to share the story - it's a great one to hear) Andy has taken a job in London, land of his birth, so he and Claudia, along with Edwin and Phillip have relocated there.
While not an official member, though we always thought of him as one, the Gypsy Team will miss Andy. During his term of service Project Ruth grew offering education to the 8th grade; moved into a new building; began skill training; opened a medical clinic; hosted many, many volunteers; and so much more. The Gypsy Smith School for Leadership Training was expanded and Andy assisted with this as well. He gave of himself tirelessly keeping the Ruth office running, the finances straight, managing the public relations, and the list goes on.
Thank you Andy for your years of service and for being the presence of Christ among the Roma of Romania. Andy and Claudia, God's blessing on you as you begin your new life. Until we meet again...
Thursday, August 6, 2009
"The Gandhi choir trip begins tomorrow (Friday, August 7th) . We are going to Slovakia and NE Hungary where there are a few small Roma house churches, many Roma, and lots of anti-Roma racism. We are thankful that Ralph and Tammy Stocks are back in Hungary and will accompany us! Please pray for this trip as the choir sings in these Roma villages. Please pray for the student who will share her Christian testimony (very brave in front of her non-believing peers). Please pray for the students as they hear testimonies from Roma in the Roma churches. Please pray for Glen as he leads this trip and for me as I try to help him. We want to be the loving witnesses of what it means to be followers of Jesus in everything that we do and say."
Also pray for safe travels, good health, and that the Roma gathered in the mission churches will have their hearts touched. Pray for the logistics of the trip to work smoothly. Pray that a good time will be experienced by all and above all else God will be glorified.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Besides the Backyard Bible Clubs they did, the Emerywood gang tasted lots of yummy (well, opinions were mixed) Hungarian food, rode public transportation like pros, sat in the town square in the evenings like Hungarians, toured Budapest, and experienced a lot of new things - so different from the US culture.
We are grateful to the youth for giving of themselves to the little ones of Ujleta and Pocsaj - for being the presence of Christ in both villages. We are grateful to their parents and Emerywood Baptist Church for sending them. Thank you. To God Be the Glory.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
While in Romania we would liaise with supporters and visitors from all over the globe, primarily England and the US. Now that we have returned to the US it has been our pleasure to travel and visit many of the people we met while in Romania.
Smithfield Baptist Church came to Romania in July 2008. They were a team of 15 people coming to Project Ruth to do various tasks. During their time we become very close and were extended an invitation once we return to the States. We honored that invitation and spent 4 days in Smithfield.
While there we shared during Sunday school about Project Ruth, enjoyed a meal with the team (most of them) and participated for 2 nights at Vacation Bible. Oh and I can’t forget to mention that we tried Smithfield ham for the first time.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Until next year.... (In Charlotte, NC, June 24-25 - mark your calendars!)
Friday, July 3, 2009
Day 1 was filled with lots of talking and "catching up". Our CBF Gypsy Ministries booth has a strategic location on the walk-through as people make their way to the large group sessions. We are able to see so many prayer supporters, past volunteers, old acquaintances, and those interested in knowing more about Gypsy ministry. We team members present rotated through the booth greeting everyone. When not on official duty the rest of us attended breakout sessions and other functions. Ralph and I attended the Bible study on the Good Samaritan led by Dorisanne Cooper, pastor from Waco. She made us think of the familiar story in new ways. The evening worship was up-lifting and inspiring. It was amazing to see all the fantastic things being done by CBF in the name of Christ. The day ended with a concert by the very talented Kyle Matthews of FBC, Greenville, SC. What a Fellowship!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
The theme of the General Assembly this year is "Welcome to Your Neighborhood." The commissioning of new CBF field personnel centered on the story of the Good Samaritian and who was a good neighbor. The setting of South Main Baptist Church was beautiful with its stained glass windows and full, robed choir. Gypsy Team personnel assisted in the commissioning with Glen Adkins using his musical gifts and Shane McNary leading in a responsive prayer. The introductions of the new field personnel were interspersed with special music, litanies, and recognitions. The offertory music with an interpretive dance was a worshipful experience of sight and sound.
The evening concluded with Rob Nash, Coordinator of Global Missions, challenging not only the new personnel, but each and every one of us. He encouraged us to engage in the 21st century. We need to listen to the Global church, partner and network with congregations, and think outside of our box.
Who are our neighbors? What kind of neighbor am I?
The Gypsy Team members quickly met to catch up and assemble our ministry booth. So if you're in Houston, ya'll come by and see us.
Tonight we look forward to the commissioning service of the newest field personnel. Always a meaningful and exciting time.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Wes and Susan strengthened the ministry partnership CBF has with Project Ruth through increasing and improving communication with other partners. They expanded the networks throughout the USA and among the Romanian Romany. They facilitated great experiences for volunteers coming to work among the neglected. The Craigs eagerly grasped new opportunities.
Through Susan's administrative skills the office of Project Ruth was strengthened and organized. Wes stepped in to network and recruit teachers and students for the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training School. He followed up to encourage the students in the new knowledge they had obtained. It is not possible to list all the wonderful things they did while serving in Bucharest.
For the CBF Gypsy Team they were a breath of fresh air. Their youthful enthusiasm added to our discussion and strategy sessions. To say nothing of the late night card games! We all enjoyed their easy-going personalities and curiosity to explore new places. Wes and Susan will be greatly missed by our team.
As Wes and Susan make their way to Texas, closing this chapter in their lives and opening the next, please join us in praying that they will see clearly the next step God has for them. Ask Him to provide employment opportunities and meet their daily needs. Offer praise for their willingness to serve Him and the outstanding job they did.
The Craigs are eager and willing to share their stories of life at Project Ruth. Please contact them to come and be with your church, SS class, missions group, or anyone else interested in Romany ministry.
Wes and Susan, thank you for serving among the unreached of the world.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Hello, I’m Keith Holmes. I tend to be a very enthusiastic person. One of the things I’m enthusiastic about right now is the book of Acts on DVD in the Sinti/Manouche language. Part of the reason I’m enthusiastic is that it’s finally done!
But let me give a bit of background. My wife Mary van Rheenen and I serve as resource coordinators for the Romany Team. The main resource I coordinate is media materials in Romani languages. More than 20 different dialects and languages are spoken in Europe. Two years ago we put out the DVD of the Jesus video in 8 languages (5 of them Romani). I and a couple of other guys took it down to a pilgrimage in Southern France to distribute. The Wycliffe translator I was working with (one of the guys) said, "Okay, what now?" I said, "I don’t know." He said, "Well, I’ve seen this Acts thing in German . . .. "
The first recording of Acts was somewhere around September of 2007. We’ve been working off and on about this thing for about 100 years. We took the published version of the Acts video/DVD and put Sinti voices into. First we worked on the voice of Luke, who narrates the thing. Then we started chasing down other voices for big parts (like Paul) and little parts (like Lydia). We recorded these in church basements and people’s homes. Back in my own home, I mixed the voices in with the background music & effects (sometimes putting in effects where, for instance, laughter was missing). Then, after years of recording and mixing, we had a preview which resulted in more recording of corrections. Finally, the finished DVD is ready. Just in time, oddly enough, for Pentecost. Come to think of it, maybe that’s God’s timing. I hope to show it this weekend at an annual Sinti Pentecost tent meeting here in the Netherlands.
Here's a sample of Peter preaching at Pentacost.
Friday, May 8, 2009
We partner with several organizations to confront the dire poverty which is so prevalent among the Roma. By strategically and creatively investing the hunger funds available, not only have we seen progress in the battle against poverty, we have also seen an expanded Christian witness.
At the all-Roma school in Košice, gifts from individuals and state organizations provide funds to provide a warm meal each day during the week before families receive their social welfare benefits. The majority of the students at the school live in the dilapidated, segregated part of Košice called Lunik 9.
We partner with Heifer Slovakia, the local branch of Heifer International which is based in Little Rock, Arkansas to transform Roma communities by enabling them to participate in the Heifer programs to combat poverty. We are negotiating a partnership with Heifer Slovakia and a farm in Rudlov (ROOD-low), Slovakia to expand the impact of this farm among the Roma in the neighboring communities. In addition, we are working directly with the Rudlov farm on a program to teach Roma how to set up a garden at their own homes to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for their families.
Sponsoring the meals for BTC Sinaj (Bible Training Center Sinai), which offers quarterly training for Roma ministers and church workers in Slovakia, has enabled BTC to expand their impact. More people have been able to attend since the meals are no longer included in their costs.
Through a partnership with long-time ministry friends in Litoměřice (there’s not a sound in English for the ř), Czech Republic, hunger funds have enabled a summer Bible camp for Roma youth. Short-term volunteers from churches in the United States and Europe will share the hope and grace of Christ during a week-long camp.
Slideshow includes photos from the ministries mentioned above. We appreciate your prayers, your gifts, and your partnership in carrying the Gospel to Roma communities in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This past weekend, I, Tammy, was privileged to be apart of the Women's Missionary Union of Virginia's (WMU) Mom and Me weekend. Nearly 1000 1st-5th grade girls and their mothers gathered at the Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center in Lynchburg, VA to learn about missions and have a good time together. The theme of the weekend was "Magnificent Moldova" and the offering the girls gave will be sent to the Ruth School for Romany children in Bucharest, Romania.
I enjoyed being with the young girls and helping to plant seeds that they too might one day be called to be the presence of Christ somewhere in the world. I was once in their shoes, having learned about missions as a young girl growing up in a Baptist church. It was an opportunity for me to give back and I was grateful. And it was a lot of fun!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
We’ve been here 20 months. After serving as ministers in Baptist churches for over 30 years, we felt God guide us to service with these folks while we were here at Gandhi with a mission team from First Baptist Greenville, SC. [Lesson: Be careful when you are with a short-term mission team! God might use it to change your life.] So, after a long process, we sold our house, gave away lots of “stuff”, placed the remaining things with our daughter in Dallas, and moved to Pecs. Now we live in a flat on the main walking street in Pecs (Kiraly Utca, means “King Street”) and spend most of our time at the Gandhi School with many delightful Roma (Gypsy) teenagers.
On this blog, we will include stories and pictures of our work and of the many churches and mission teams who come to work in this ministry. Recently, Glen recorded a CD with the 16-month-old Gandhi choir.
Choir Makes a CD!
March was the red-letter month for the Gandhi Korus (Choir). On Tuesday, March 10th, after weeks and weeks of preparation by Glen, we—Glen, Tamas, Jozsef Orsos (Roma teacher), and I—ferried the students from the school to the Pecsi Baptista Templom (Pecs Baptist Church) to record 15 songs for a CD. The church graciously agreed to allow the group to record in the sanctuary, and Tamas Gobl, our friend there, helped us ferry the kids and manage the afternoon! (At our request, he also gave a little testimony about faith and the baptistery, which completely fascinated the students!)
Glen went early with Annamaria (translator and assistant), the musicians and instruments (Joshua, Sanyi, Szabi, Istvan, E.T.), and a few of the soloists (Klaudia, Peter, Laura, and Andi). They were met by a very nice recording engineer (Gabor) who worked with them to record solo parts and a number by the guys! When the rest of the choir arrived, the sanctuary really started rocking! The students were nervous and excited and ready to do their very best, and they did! Their irrepressible energy would explode after every number, as soon as Glen dropped his hands—guitars playing, kids laughing and singing, kannas (milkjugs) pounding . . . Then, as soon as Glen said, “CSENDES” (quiet), there was instant silence. They waited for the cue and started the music. It was amazing! We were so proud of their determination.
You can see video and pictures of the process. Glen asked two people (Almos, a teacher, and Ricsi, a student) to video and one (me) to photograph the process. The pictures and videos are as fun as the singing. The process really took over 5 hours to complete, so the students got tired, but they tried to maintain their high energy level to make it through 15 songs. Of course, we had to take the inevitable smoke breaks. (Tamas pointed them to a place in the parking lot for the smoking!) At the midpoint, we served them colas, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, rice crispy treats (actually corn flake treats), and jelly beans—good ol’ American kid treats—to give them a sugar high and get them going again. They seemed to like the eating as much as the singing.
At 5:30 they sang the final song. After one repeat, the CD was done! To celebrate, we ferried them to a local restaurant for a celebration meal. Glen had pre-arranged the meal with the owners and they were ready for the group. I’m not sure that many had ever eaten at a restaurant where they were served by waiters, but they did well and were on their best behavior. The waiters were cheerful and helpful, and the students left the restaurant tired but happy.
Now, Glen is spending hours with Gabor (sound engineer) editing the songs. You can hear a few of the results on youtube. Please continue to pray for Glen, the choir, and this process as this CD may open many doors for the students and the school.
Below is a video of the Gandhi School Choir singing "Gelem, gelem," (translated "We must go
on") the International Gypsy Hymn.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
As wonderful as it was being with these Roma church leaders, what was even more encouraging was the special baptismal service for three Roma. Despite the 30-degree weather outside and no heater inside, people gathered together to witness the first baptisms in their village. The three Roma could have waited until spring, but they refused to wait. They couldn’t wait. They wanted to be baptized as soon as possible and I was honored to be there to witness such an enthusiastic expression of faith.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I'm Elaine Childs, the newest and shortest-term member of the team. I arrived in Croatia on July 30, 2008, to work with Karmen Horvat, a missionary with the Child Evangelism Fellowship, and to help coordinate the partnership that my home church has with the Baptist Union of Croatia. There are many gypsy villages in this part of Croatia, and Karmen holds Five-Day clubs and Good News Clubs in three or four of them (the number of villages we meet in on a weekly basis is always changing we have to have a home to host us). I assist her, and I help organize other short-term mission trips.
My home church, First Baptist Knoxville, has sent several short-term mission teams to work with Karmen, and I came along with the 2007 youth trip as a chaperone. I fell in love with Croatia at first sight, and when Karmen told our group about how her ministry needs workers, I began to wonder if I was called to come back for a slightly more long-term stay: one year. After a lot of prayer, and several conversations with ministers at my church, I felt like God was confirming my initial sense of call.
I feel very blessed. Around the time when I was baptized (age 11), I was SO afraid that if I gave my life to God, He'd make me go be a missionary in Africa! But here I am, living in a beautiful country that I love and doing the most rewarding work I've ever done. I get to talk about Jesus with all of these adorable children!
I have my own ministry blog at http://lace-making.blogspot.com/ where you can read more about what Karmen and I do on a day-to-day basis. I'm going to take the liberty of pasting part of my first entry because I think it summarizes my perspective on missions. After seven months "on the field," I would certainly reword the last sentence a bit because I've learned for REAL, not just in theory, that everything, absolutely everything, has to be surrendered to God's plan and power and not just "left to take care of itself." But the basic analogy is a lesson that I have to try and remember every single day that I go into one of these villages.
"The title of this blog might seem odd because I am going to Croatia as First Baptist Church's missionary, not as a lace-maker. But I'm an English teacher, so it helps me to think of things in terms of analogies and symbols! A passage I read this spring in W. B. Yeats's Autobiographies has been on my mind for several months, and it seems appropriate for the work I'm going to do. The poet wrote that, as a young man trying to make his living in London:
I was always planning some great gesture...More than thirty years have passed and I have seen no forcible young man of letters brave the metropolis without some like stimulant; and all after two or three, or twelve or fifteen years, according to obstinacy, have understood that we achieve, if we do achieve, in little sedentary stitches as though we were making lace.
I like that quotation because I'm a lot like the "forcible young man of letters" who wants big gestures and huge successes. But, in reality, most of life's achievements come about because we make one tiny stitch at a time, and eventually something complete comes out of it.
Coincidentally, I found out that Croatia has been famous for centuries for its Pag lace. Each piece of lace is one-of-a-kind because the lace-maker doesn't use a pattern or a plan: she simply starts work and allows the lace to take its own unique shape. So that's why I think of my year in Croatia as a year of lace-making: I'm going to focus on making tiny stitches and allow the eventual pattern to take care of itself."