Monday, October 10, 2016

Taking a Step of Faith...

October 10, 2016

Dear Friends,

It is with a mixture of sadness and anticipation that we announce our resignation from CBF.  We will continue to serve in Romania until December 15, 2016.  At that time, we will transition to NC to begin six months of OFA, culminating in the 2017 CBF General Assembly. 

The US Government says we are too young to retire so we will be looking for employment that honors God and makes use of our talents and experiences.  We look toward that future with anticipation and ask for your prayers that God will lead us in that process.

Our resignation comes due to several factors with the most compelling being the cumulative separation from family over the near 22 years of service with CBF.  Our parents have experienced aging and health issues and the distance has prevented us from assisting our siblings in their care.  We have a grandson who turned two in August and we want to be a part of his young life.  We will settle in the Triad area of NC (Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point).

Our sadness comes from leaving several things dear to us:

1.    The Romany people to whom we dedicated these past 22 years. 

2.    Project Ruth – the Ruth School students and Staff, the Gypsy Smith School students and diverse faculty and the Naomi Center with the women Tammy has come to love.

3.    Our Romanian and Hungarian friends who welcomed us into their families and their churches and their countries.

We wish to express deep appreciation for our families, friends, and the many individuals and groups and churches that have supported us through these many years.  Your prayers have been felt, your gifts to CBF’s Offering for Global Missions and our projects have impacted our ministries and your love for us has sustained us throughout.  We are deeply grateful for all of you!  Please continue to support Global Missions!

Our passion for missions and specifically Project Ruth, continues into the future.  We encourage you to continue to impact the ongoing ministry here through student scholarships, special gifts, sending and participating in teams.  We will certainly do so!

We pray God’s richest blessings upon you!

With much fondness for each of you,

Ralph and Tammy

Monday, May 23, 2016

Going to the Chapel...

 Our friend, Gabi, got married twice in the same week.  How does that happen?  In Romania couples go to the government center of their sector of the city for the civil, legal ceremony. This is a happy occasion with flowers and well wishes.  Next many couples will have a ceremony at church where they say their vows before God and many of their friends.  Then there is usually a multi course dinner of celebration with games, entertainment, lots of food, and pictures.  It is fun and an occasion not to be missed.  We enjoyed every minute.
Living cross culturally, meaning we live in a cultural that is different from one in which we were raised, has been something we've enjoyed.  And certainly one we have felt called to do.  It has had it challenges too.  We realized early in our time in Europe the best way to learn about a new culture was by being present.  Living day in and day out among the people we want to know.  We need to be there life events - their births, deaths, weddings, birthdays, graduations.  We have been blessed to be present for many of these occasions.  We are grateful to those that support CBF's Offering for Global Missions which enables us to be here.  And Gabi & Iulian we wish you many, many happy days and years ahead!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Other Duties as Assigned...

Friends, Cadance Tyler and Katrina Brooks,
sent by Virginia Baptists, help in the kitchen
CBF Heartland coordinator emeritus,
Harold Phillips, washing bowls.
 "Sister, sister, I know you!"  I heard these words this summer as we served with a team in a small village in northeast Romania.  The young man was waving at me from the driver's seat of a van.  He said, "Yes, I do know you.  You're the dishwasher at the Ruth School."  It took a moment for me to understand.  Me? Dishwasher?  What?  Then recognition came as I realized this young church leader attends our Gypsy Smith Leadership School (GSS).  Three times a year these young leaders come for a week of classes.  While at the school we house them and feed them.  It's a busy time in the kitchen as they cook lunch for 200 Ruth School students,  provide three meals a day for 25 GSS students, make sandwiches for 30 afterschool kids, and fix snack bags for the 50 sports program participants.  During these weeks I help out by washing dishes.  Gladly, I, along with others at Project Ruth, rework our days to do what has to be done to serve the community. 
    At the bottom of any good job description one usually finds a sentence similar to "And other duties as assigned."  As CBF field personnel ministering in Romania it's a regular occurrence to do the unexpected, unanticipated, or unplanned.  Wonderful interruptions in ministry that allow us opportunities to serve God in unusual ways.  So when the young man said, "You're the dishwasher..."  My reply? "That's me!"

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Traditions at the Ruth School

This time of year there are many traditions to help celebrate the season from Thanksgiving to New Year's.  The Ruth School is no exception with traditions that the students look forward to participating in.  The first is our annual Thanksgiving tree.  We don't officially celebrate the holiday in Romania but that doesn't keep us from being thankful.  During our chapel time students from each class read what they have written on their leaves and then place them on the tree.  We leave the tree displayed in the chapel area to serve as a reminder of the many things we have to be thankful for.  This year the students shared they are thankful for their families, friends, teachers, our school, hot meals served every day, God's love, and so many other things.  It was a delightful time.

The other tradition is the honor of our older students to decorate the Christmas tree in the lunch room.  They do this after school as a surprise for the younger grades.  After the tree is decked out we celebrate with pizza and cupcakes.  It's an enjoyable time and we hope helps the older students develop their sense of leadership in the school.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Quilting, A New Skill...

Binding, batting, feed dogs, half-square triangle... the vocabulary of quilting sounded strange to the ladies of the Naomi Center.  A team of master quilters from CBF Heartland had arrived to teach a week long workshop of quilting fundamentals.  Children ran in and out of the room as the air conditioner struggled to perform in the 97 degree heat. This did not deter the Naomi ladies who proved to be quick learners and eagerly embraced measuring, cutting, and piecing together the materials for a quilted table runner.  They learned how to put colors and prints together to coordinate a pieced top.  The week was more than quilting it was a
sharing of community as the day began with a devotion, moved to learning the basics of quilting, and sharing lunch together.  Also daily an American woman shared her faith journey through a talk show interview entitled "The Naomi Show" with the theme, "We Are Women, God Loves Us!"  Each Naomi woman was celebrated as their vibrant colored table runners were finished and a new project was started.  Some of the master seamstresses took the basic quilting skills and quickly adapted them to expand their projects into small blankets with fancy stitching.  This week was an opportunity for women from two different
cultures to bond in the togetherness women so enjoy. It has helped the Naomi women to expand their skill levels to aid in their abilities to support their families.  It was jokingly said, "The Naomi Center can become the go-to place for quilted products in Romania."  While that can be a goal for the future, the present day goal of helping women to know God loves them for who they are was certainly fulfilled. 

Now, who needs a quilted table runner?  We have some beautiful ones!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Everybody Needs a Break...

The ladies of our Naomi Center are hard working.  They sew, cook, clean, take care of children, perhaps work another job, shop daily for bread and milk and so the list goes on.  Like many women their days are filled with caring for their families.  The hours are long and the stress is great.  Recently we took the women to the mountains of Romania for some rest and relaxation.  It was a chance to forget about daily life and to enjoy themselves.  We had lunch sitting on a patio with the majestic mountains in view.  Afterwards we spread blankets on the ground underneath the trees of the forest and Dana, the Naomi coordinator, shared a few words about taking time for ourselves.  Then we spent the rest of afternoon napping, hiking through the forest, eating snacks, talking, and taking lots of fun pictures.  As we boarded the bus for the ride back to the concrete of Bucharest we all agreed it was a Sabbath day filled with no worries and the fellowship of good friends.  Everybody needs a break...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ode to Kids' Club Dr Suess Style

The youth from FBC, Kernersville, NC spent a week in Romania doing Kids' Clubs - better known as Vacation Bible School in the USA.  As we arrived at each location it was always a surprise to see the venue.  Where would Club be held this time?
Could you, would you do Kids’ Club this week?
It really, really would be quite a treat.
Yes, yes we could do that task
We’re pretty sure it would be a blast.
Could you, would you at the Ruth school?
Of course that would be really cool!
How about in a park? Or under a tree?
Happily with shouts of glee!
To the Roma kids we’ll teach a Bible story of old
And crafts from paper, treated like gold.
Could you, would you on stage?
Why yes, and our music will be all the rage!

How about the local Roma church?
With water balloons for play, we’ll not leave you in the lurch
At the school, in the street
We’re ready for any feat.
At the church, in the park
God’s call is not a lark.
At the bandstand, under the tree
Seeds planted we will see.
Children will laugh and play
And God’s love will win the day.