Monday, August 31, 2009

School Begins

"School Days, School Days, Good Old Golden..." so the song goes. Today and the remainder of the week schools will begin throughout central and eastern Europe. Please join us in praying for the Roma children in this region as they make their ways to the various buildings for elementary and high school. Pray that hearts would soften in the discrimination against them and this would be the year they feel welcomed. Pray for safety in light of the violence against Roma recently in Hungary and Slovakia. Pray the students would realize the advantage an education can mean in their lives and would study seriously. Pray for their parents as many struggle to provide basic school supplies, pay fees, and clothe their children. Pray for the Gandhi Roma High School in Pecs, Hungary as their begin the year with new leadership. Pray the needs and education of the students would be the top priority. Thank you for partnering with us through prayer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Movers Come Tomorrow 8/27/09

Please say a prayer. We've hired a local guy to "cart our junk" from the retired pastor's home in a little village to our very clean (I spent the last two days scrubbing) house in the middle of Budapest. It's been so long since we've seen our belongings I think it will be like Christmas as we open the boxes. Can't wait!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quilting Experience

My grandmother was a quilter. She grew up in a time and place where it was a necessity of life. She would have been proud of me today. I went to a quilt camp. It was fun and it took me four hours to do one little square. That was with a machine!

My friend, Beth Weaver, has invited me several times to see how this activity is used as an outreach to women. Currently there are 21 quilting clubs across the country. The ladies meet once a month to work on a quilting project. About twice a year they come together for a retreat. A group of quilters come from the US with a quilting project that is done over a three day period. It is not just about quilting, or learning how-to in my case, it's about sharing, laughing, eating, and being together. Testimonies and devotionals are given. Sitting around the tables one can observe a wiser, older woman listening and giving counsel to a younger woman. Stories are heard about jobs, children, husbands, parents - common themes for women around the world. Laughter is present and sometimes a tear or two.

I went to see what a quilting outreach was all about. I wanted to see if it might work among the Roma women. They need times of encouragement and fellowship. They also need times of testimony sharing and ways to invite their non-believing friends to hear the gospel. Pray with me that God would show us if, how, and when quilting might be used among the Romany women of Hungary.

A side note: It was market day outside of the church where we met. So the sidewalks were filled with people hustling and bustling to buy vegetables, fruits, clothing, etc. A man, claiming to be a sidewalk sweeper, must have observed this room of at least 30 women each sitting at a sewing machine. He came in and asked one of the Hungarian ladies if she would repair the rip in his pants. When she agreed he promptly striped them off and handed them over. Luckily he had on boxer shorts! After she finished he put them back on and went on his way. It gave us all something to chuckle about the rest of the day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm in - technically

Today I moved into our new house with a mattress, a coffee pot, a fan, a tv, and our computer. It feels great! We spent 11 months in the US living out of suitcases a good deal of the time and then 6 weeks in Hungary going from place to place. (We are very grateful to friends that took us in!) I am so ready to see my stuff. It ain't much but it's mine. Ralph is currently on a trip and returns the 26th. The movers come the 27th. Right now I am scrubbing, sweeping, washing, etc. in preparation for the big day. Pray all goes well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sweet Memories

Since we're homeless, our colleagues, Glen and Clista Adkins, have been kind enough to take us in. They live in Pecs, one of the larger cities in Hungary. It is also home to the Vago family. If you have followed us since our early days in the village, the name may ring a bell. Istvan Vago was the pastor at the Baptist church in Derecske, the village where we spent our first term. The Vago family fed us for the first week we were in Hungary. They were our first friends. Their first born, Kinga, was friends and classmates with our first born, Amy. We have wonderful memories with the Vago family.

Istvan was called to pastor the Baptist church in Pecs about a year after we arrived. We have kept in touch over the years, watching our children grow up and our hair grow gray. During this visit to Pecs we heard Istvan has planted a new church in Pecs. Sunday we visited and what a warm reunion it was! It was wonderful to see him and the family. The church meets in the former headquarters of the local socialist party (isn't that ironic?). It is a contemporary service with lots of music and casual dress. We remarked it was the first Sunday we had ever seen Istvan without a tie. Istvan is a great pastor and it comes through in his love for people. He also preaches from the heart as God leads and that heart includes the Roma. Istvan was the first Hungarian we met who championed the Roma and desired to bring them the love of Christ. It was good to see him and observe that his heart is still as big and open as we remember. Please pray for the new church start, "Love's Castle" Baptist Church and Istvan Vago with his leadership team as they lead.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farewell Andy & Claudia Brockbank

It's a wonderful story and really not mine 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

Prayer Request - Gandhi Tour

Prayer Supporters - Please be in prayer for the Stocks and the Adkins as we tour with the Gandhi Choir over an extended weekend. Here are the requests in Clista's words:

"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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Emerywood Youth in Ujleta & Pocsaj

The Roma kids of Pocsaj and Ujleta will have many happy memories from the summer of 2009 thanks to the youth team from Emerywood Baptist Church. The temperatures were sweltering but the energy levels were high. Love was shown through interactive Bible stories, lots of singing, jumping rope, football (soccer) playing, yummy snacks, colorful crafts, and in many, many more ways. The Youth incorporated the Roma kids into the Bible stories. One day the "sick man" being carried to Jesus by his friends was giggling so hard they nearly dropped him! The lepers being healed by Jesus were gasping, limping, and having a grand ole time pretending to be sick. It was fun to watch. Craft time was a hit too as the children intently made their bracelets or puppets and they eagerly showed them off. One afternoon a group of American girls set up a coloring station under the shade trees for the little ones and soon found themselves painting the fingernails of the Roma moms! During the recreation time football (soccer) was a big hit. The Roma teens were eager to challenge the American teens. Luckily Emerywood sent some of their best athletes so the games were evenly matched. It was hard at the end of the week to say good-bye. There were lots of hugs, smiles, and a few tears.

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.

"Reunited & It Feels So Good..."

Hunter the Wonder Dog! Today we visited him for the first time in a year. Our friends, Helen and Ellis Vaughan, graciously agreed to foster parent Hunter while we were in the USA. We had hesitated to go by to see him because the Vaughans were out of town and we didn't want to cause problems for the Hungarian friend staying at their house. Once the Vaughan family returned we went by for a visit. They have taken excellent care of him and treated him like one of the family. Hunter was excited and sensed us right away. He began racing about, giving little whelps, and stopping to have his belly rubbed. As we visited with Ellis I noticed Hunter kept peeping around the couch like, "Is that really them?" I also noted he was totally at home as he went over for a head scratch when Tori and Samuel came through the living room on their way out. When we left it was nap time (Hunter loves naps as much as food) and he barely raised his head in a signal of good bye. Thank you Vaughan family for taking such good care of Hunter the Wonder Dog!