Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Party in Csobanka

On Dec 23rd we held a Christmas party, "Happy Birthday Jesus" in Csobanka. We had good food, party hats, balloons, horns, and gifts - all to celebrate the season!

Stay tuned for more to come...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Schengen Zone

Today is a momentous day in eastern Europe! Today the borders between the western European countries in the European Union and nine of the new members - mostly former Soviet satellite countries - come down - literally. Today Hungary becomes a part of the Schengen Zone. This means we can travel freely without stopping to show our passports in almost all of our border countries (Romania and the Ukraine are the exceptions as of now).

For most of us this is a reason to celebrate - travel becomes easier. There are still concerns that the western European countries will be swamped with undesirables - of which the Roma (Gypsies) are usually listed. Please continue to pray for Romany to become acceptable to the peoples they live among in the different European nations.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Celebrate Good Times... Come On...

The lyrics of the pop song came to mind recently when the Roma of the church in Ilk celebrated a baptism. The Roma enjoy celebrations and baptisms are very good reasons to come together for such a joyous fellowship. The day began early with a sense of excitement. The ladies began arriving at the church with their cooking ware. They laughed and talked as they prepared a meal of “bab gulyas” (bean soup) and stuffed cabbage. As each group of guests arrived they were ushered into the tiny room overflowing with tables, chairs, an assortment of dishes on loan from each household, and warm delicious food. With each new arrival there were shouts of greetings and rounds of kisses exchanged.

Soon we were arranging car rides to travel to a nearby Hungarian Baptist church for the baptism. The nine candidates, dressed in white, were presented to the group and three gave their testimonies. Then they made their way to the baptismal pool. As the first candidate made her way into the water the Roma rose and made their way to the front of the church, crowding around, not wanting to sit quietly in the pews. There were smiles, shouts of “Amen” and “Hallelujah” as the candidate confirmed her belief in Jesus Christ. Then as she emerged from the water the group broke into joyous song. This was repeated with each of the nine candidates. The service ended with the new Christians coming before the congregation on bowed knees to be prayed over.

Leaving the church ended the formal service but there was much celebrating still to be done. We gathered in the small worship room of Ilk to praise God through worship, testimonies, and sharing of personal thoughts by the Roma believers. The evening ended with coffee and dessert. It was a full day of celebrating and being excited about the new life in Christ of their Roma brothers and sisters. Celebrate Good Times… Come On…

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Mikulas Nap

December 6th is a big day in Hungary for all the children. It is Mikulas Nap (Santa Day). Last night children cleaned a boot or shoe and placed it in the window. Mikulas (MEEK-u-lash) came during the night and put candy inside it. If they were bad children they got sticks. Mikulas travels with a couple of devil looking guys that put the twigs in.
Today Mikulas will visit the schools, kindergartens, hospitals, malls, anywhere that children might be. He will give out szalon cukor (brightly wrapped chocolates) and wish everyone "Kellemes Karacsonyt and Boldog Uj Evet!" (Merry Christmas & Happy New Year). It is a day that brings a smile to even the grumpiest of people.
What about Christmas day? The gifts that children in Hungary find under their tree on Christmas Eve were placed there by Baby Jesus and his angels. The children are distracted for a couple of hours, until they hear a bell ring. Then they are allowed into the main room of the house where they find a fully decorated tree and gifts. For the next two days (we have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day 1, and Christmas Day 2) they visit with family and eat big meals of fish soup, turkey, and special Christmas bread called begli. Life in Hungary...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Birthday Roma Mission of Hungary

Time flies as the expression goes and we count it by marking the anniversaries of significant events in our lives. Last night Ralph and I attended a service to celebrate eight years of ministry for the Roma Mission of the Hungarian Baptist Union. We heard from various speakers, enjoyed beautiful music, and celebrated with a decorated cake. It was a time to remember and a time to look toward the future. Eight years ago very few people wanted to be involved with the Roma but a courageous few stepped up boldly to proclaim that God loves us all. Today the mission is thriving and growing. A number of Roma have been called to evangelize and start churches among their own people. Roma leaders are pastoring churches, leading Bible studies, securing buildings for meeting places - each and every step proclaiming God loves you to the Roma. Saturday we will have a baptism in the small village of Nagyvarsany. God is working here in Hungary and for that we praise Him!
**Another anniversary for us - Ralph and I marked 13 years with CBF on Dec 1. Thank you for giving generously to the Global Missions Offering which provides us with the means to live in Hungary and be the presence of Christ among the Roma.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We had a fun celebration with our CBF colleagues, Shane, Dianne, Taylor, & Allie McNary from Kosice, Slovakia; Susan & Wes Craig from Bucharest, Romania; and Glen & Clista Adkins from Pecs. With each of us contributing from our secret, reserved stashes (when you live overseas you usually have a stash of items from the USA you can't get in your country) we were able to have all the fixin's for the traditional American thanksgiving. We spent the afternoon and evening playing games and enjoying each other's company. I believe a good time was had by all!