Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Our family wishes you a very happy 2011. We thank you for all the support you've given us this past year and look forward to what the new one will bring. Blessing to all!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where Did You Spend Your Christmas Break?


I tried to convince our children, Amy & Josh, that the answer to that question would be a conversation starter for their friends in the USA. "Well, first our parents took us to see Dracula's stomping ground at Bran, Transylvania, Romania and after that excitement we toured the People's Palace in Bucharest, the 2nd largest building in the world!" They said it was a conversation stopper - what do you say after that? Oh yeah, they have to add watching the Bear Dancers and the Santa Band on the street in front of our apartment building on Christmas Eve. OK, maybe it is hard to beat that...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wait, Santa speaks English??

Dec 17th was the last day of school before the Christmas break. Guess that makes it the last day of this year too. The Ruth students were excited because they knew it was a special day with parties, a program, and most importantly a visit from Santa. (Moș Crăciun) A generous donor from Germany provided gifts for each student and the bright bags were full of goodies! The classes did Christmas skits for their fellow students, the staff, and for the parents in the audience. It was a wonderful celebration. (even if Santa didn't speak a lot of Romanian - it was Ralph behind that white beard!)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Project Ruth Staff Lunch

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Today was the Project Ruth staff lunch. The weather outside was frigid but the fellowship inside was warm. We were suprised when Tita, the Ruth School director, out on medical leave, came in. She was greeted warmly with kisses and hugs. The food was yummy and the laughter contagious. We dined on traditional Romanian cheeses and meats, followed by delicious desserts. Secret Santa was at work as each person received a gift but didn't know who it was from. It was a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas and for the Project Ruth administration to show the staff how much they are appreciated.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Update & Prayer Request

Many of you know Alex Ghitsa, student coordinator and translator for the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training School with Project Ruth. Alex's mother lost her battle with cancer Thurday, Dec 9th. Please pray for their family to have peace and be comforted during this time of grief. Alex was serving at the December session of the GSS when he received the news.

Thank you for praying for our resident permits. We turned in all of our paperwork today and everything was accepted without a problem. Now we wait... Please pray all will go smoothly and we will receive long term permits.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Providence Ladies Christmas Fellowship


The Providence Ladies' Christmas Fellowship was a huge success! How did we know? The Ladies had such a good time that even after they were finished with their candy wreaths they sat around talking and snacking. The clock ticked on but no one seemed in a hurry to leave. It was a relaxing time of being together as women, making new friends, and reflecting on God's Gift given to us at Christmas.

Take a look at the pictures and see the women as they sat around the tables making their wreaths. Every 20 minutes a bell sounded and you had to move to new spot to sit by someone different. There were also 6 Santa hats with little gifts underneath them. We drew a name and the lucky person got to chose a hat with a surprise. Christmas music filled the air along with the aroma of oranges and cinnamon. As are reminder of being loved by God, a sweet aroma to Him, the ladies also took home a natural ornament made from oranges, cinnamon, and cloves.

God blessed us and our time together. Joyful Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Decorating Continues at Ruth School...



"It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas..." The young students may not know the words to the American Christmas song but they know the feeling. The 1st grade crafted Santa Hats to add Christmas cheer to their room with their bright red and gold tree. The 2nd graders studiously applied sequins to their paper trees to make ornaments to decorate their windows. It was a fun time and I learned a few new Romanian words as the little ones tried to express their joy. Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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What's more fun than watching a child's eyes light up and hearing their giggles as they decorate a Christmas tree? Today at the Obed Day Center the students enjoyed preparing for Christmas by setting up their tree and adding their own little touches to make it shine. We also helped them make little Santa hats with construction paper and strategically placed cotton balls. Smiles, giggles, sticky fingers, and happy faces were abundant today!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Celebrating 16 Years With CBF Among the Roma














December 1st marked our 16th year with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship living among the Roma. When we think back on those days of living in a little village with two small children we are grateful for the prayer support we felt. After 15 years of life in Hungary we could see God's hand in so many ways as the Hungarians and Roma alike began to lead in the ministry, preaching, teaching, and starting churches. Our calling to be among the Roma led us to transition from Hungary to Romania. We remain grateful for your prayers through this time too. We are thankful that it has not been as difficult as that first move to Hungary.

Thank you for your consistent prayers, faithful giving and meaningful service alongside our ministry among the Roma. God is at work in the world, and when you participate with us in ministry, you join God in that work.

At this time of year, many of you make an extra gift to the CBF Offering for Global Missions. During this economic downturn, your gift, while sacrificial on your part, has the potential to have more impact on not just our ministry but also the lives of the people CBF field personnel minister among who live at the margins around the world.

Please consider making an online gift now through CBF’s secure giving site, or you can mail your gift to Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, P.O. Box 101699, Atlanta, Ga., 30392. Be sure to indicate “CBF Offering for Global Missions” in the memo line.

May God richly bless you, your church, your family and all the ways you are using your passion to participate in God’s mission. We are grateful for your continued support and look forward to being a part of God's work in Romania. Come and join us!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy National Day!

Today is a holiday in Romania. It's a celebration of Romania being reunited with Transylvania in 1918. It's a patriotic holiday similar to our Independence Day. Like on the 4th of July the stores are open and everyone has the day off work. While receiving back Transylvania is a reason to celebrate among Romanians, it is NOT among our Hungarian friends. We often heard negative comments about Hungary losing Transylvania to Romania - even to this day 92 years later! It is a beautiful place with the mountains so I can understand this a bit. "Happy Transylvania Came Back to Romania Day!" to our Romanian friends and "So Sorry" to our Hungarian ones.

Life in a Block Apartment

Much of the housing in Bucharest is in block apartment buildings and many of them are left over from the Communist era. We chose to live in one - on a street, in a neighborhood made up of block apartments. Ours was built during Communism and it has some funny quirks. For one thing they did not put any electrical outlets in bathrooms. Luckily my hairdryer has a long cord so I use the outlet in hallway. Another unusual thing is the hot water. It periodically doesn't exist. It seems the hot water to many of the block buildings comes from a central location and is piped to the building. We have plenty of it - when it works. But it never gets scalding hot and the kitchen sink has yet to have hot water. (We boil water in the microwave when washing dishes by hand.) One of the nice things is the heat. We have yet to turn our radiators on. Heat rises and since we are on the 6th floor of 7, we get other people's heat. So far we've been comfortable. We are also thankful for the elevator. It works most of the time. Life is good!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Has Arrived!

Europe generally does not join in the craziness of Christmas like we do in the USA. This is one of the things I like about living here. Only recently have Christmas decorations been seen in the stores and only this week did we notice billboards with Christmas themed advertising.

I admit I do buck the trend a little though. This weekend I got out our decorations and spread the Christmas cheer throughout our small apartment. It was a challenge - I collect nativity sets and to find places for them all I had to get creative. I hung a star with lights on our living room window and when it gets dark here (4:30-5:00) it is a bright beacon on this street of tall buildings. We will wait to decorate our main tree until Amy & Josh arrive mid-December. That's a tradition.

Joyfully beginning the season of celebrating Christ's birth!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cinderella & Her Slippers - Thankful for Shoes








During this Thanksgiving season we give thanks for many things. Tuesday we were grateful for shoes! At the Ruth School we distributed all kinds of shoes to the students. The atmosphere was festive as the kids tried on the different shoes and bagged up 2-3 pairs to take home. It was fun to see the girls try on the sparkly, glittery shoes while the boys went straight for the athletic styles. It was heartwarming to see some of the students select small sized shoes for siblings at home and ask if they could select a pair of adult sized ones for their mothers. They were eager to share.
Thank you Lord for shoes!



Friday, November 19, 2010

"Cookies! Me Want Cookies!"


"Cookies! Me want cookies!" Young children in the US have grown up hearing the words of the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. This past week the children of the Obed Day Center (a Project Ruth ministry) had a chance to play with cookies too. We set up tables with sugar cookies, icing, and sprinkles. After a few basic instructions the little girls carefully spread the icing and daintily sprinkled the colorful sugar on top. They ate one or two cookies and saved the rest for later. Not the boys! They slapped on the icing, piled on the sprinkles, and then made cookie sandwiches so they could eat them faster! All the children enjoyed their break from the routine and had a good, but very sticky time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lukewarm Coke?!?

We don't have to look at the calendar to know winter is nearly upon us. There are a series of signs we have come to look for in Eastern Europe as the leaves turn and the cold North wind blows in. One of them is classic: Many of the stores turn their cold drink coolers off. Yes, off! It has long been known by Americans, lovers of iced drinks, that Europe generally does not serve ice in their drinks. This is taking it a step further because of a general belief that cold things one may drink or eat in cold weather can contribute to making you sick. So I chuckled out loud yesterday as I reached for a Coke Light (Diet Coke to you Americans) and noted the cooler was off, meaning my Coke was lukewarm. I admit there are many things I like about living in Europe, but this is not one of them. :) Off to find some ice...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas Gifts That Keep on Giving...


This Christmas your holiday shopping can change lives.

Simple gifts. That’s what the gifts in the CBF Gift Catalog are. But these simple gifts — clean water, a book, a meal, a warm blanket — can change the lives of people around the world. Each gift in the CBF Gift Catalog represents a contribution to the life-changing ministries of the Fellowship. When you give, you are helping meet physical and spiritual needs in the name of Jesus Christ. Like most people, you probably purchase gifts for loved ones during the year. This year, let some of those gifts change lives by giving through the CBF Gift Catalog. Your loved ones will know you care about them and about people in need around the world. Order online now! (Click on the dark brown script and it will take you to the site to help you choose your gifts)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meeting Missionaries in the 21st Century

In the days when I grew up studying missions we mostly read about missionaries in our study books. If we were very lucky we might meet a missionary at an associational or state meeting. I clearly remember a slide I saw of grub worms and the missionaries describing how they were a delicacy in the African country where they served. (Side note: I remember thinking "Not for me! Ever!" Look at me now.) It was so exciting to hear their stories and ask them questions. It had a big impact on my life.

Fast forward in time to last Wednesday night in Edenton, NC. Kelly Rhodes, associate minister at First Baptist Church, gathered her group of 8-12 year olds around her lap top. At the designated time she called us on SKYPE. (I will add it was 7PM in NC but 2AM in Romania. We are committed to growing the next generation of believers!) Through the miracle of the internet we were able to see the kids and they us. They listened to our story and then asked questions. It was fun to hear of their interest in what life is like in Romania and Hungary and what life is like for Roma kids their age.

The formats change but the message is still the same: "...You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" Acts 1:7

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whose Door is This?

This is our apartment door and I hope it says, "Someone different lives here and you should get to know them!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Engaged!

Ralph and I are pleased to announce our daughter, Amy Lee, accepted the marriage proposal of Tyler Gallaher at sunset on Atlantic Beach. Tyler and Amy met at Campbell University as undergraduates when both became active in Campus Ministries. We have enjoyed getting to know Tyler the last few years and are ecstatically happy for them. Tyler comes from Kinston, NC where his parents, Dr Rob and Suzanne Gallaher, also live. His dream is to become a veterinarian and their newly adopted dog, Sandy, is glad to hear that.

Join us in celebrating!

And be warned I am sure there will be future blog entries about helping a daughter plan the wedding of her dreams when living a l-o-n-g distance apart. I'm excited to begin!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Offering for Global Missions


CBF's Offering for Global Missions (OGM), is traditionally, in Baptist churches, encouraged during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. This year's offering material features our Gypsy Team members, Dianne and Shane McNary. If you would like to know more take a look at: http://www.thefellowship.info/ogm Here you will find ways to access materials with leadership guides, clip art, posters, and bulletin inserts. These are all great ways to make your congregations aware of how the love of Christ is being shared and ways you can help through praying, giving, and serving. The offering is a large part of what enables the McNarys, our team, and other CBF field personnel to live and minister among the most neglected of this world. Thank you for considering a gift.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gypsy Smith Leadership Training - October Session

Romanian, Dutch, English, Romani (Gypsy), a bit of German, and Hungarian - what a mixture of languages! At times during this week of the October session at the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training all could be heard. Seventeen Roma leaders gathered to learn about Baptist History and the Holy Spirit in Scripture. Our instructors for the week were from The Netherlands where Baptists just celebrated 400 years of history from their beginnings in Amsterdam. Teun van der Leer is the Rector at the Baptist Seminary and Anne de Vries is a staff member of the Baptist Union. The teachers had this to say about their week with the Roma leaders:

Anne de Vries: "It's great to teach these brothers. They are highly motivated to receive, know their Bible well and demonstrate a strong interest in theology and church history. Their singing is very impressive, as are the moments of prayer that we may experience together. It is a great privilege to work here. "

Teun van der Leer: "Wednesday we spent a short visit to the Baptist Seminary here in Bucharest (more than 200 students) and Thursday night we visited, along with the students, a service in Biserica Baptista Christina Provindentia in Bucharest, where we of course had to preach ourselves and share greetings from the Netherlands."

Join us in praising God and thanking Him for this opportunity to teach and learn. Thank Him for the dedicated leaders that made the journey and took the time to be in Bucharest this week. Thank Him for calling our two teachers to come as well. Praise God for this week of blessing.

quotes from Baptist Union website: http://www.baptisten.nl

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unwelcome, Uninvited Guests

We live on the 6th floor of a 7 floor building. We are surrounded by buildings just as tall. The pigeons fly from ledge to ledge looking for food or a place to rest. I do not like them resting outside my window because of what they leave behind! These two pigeons are saying,

"Dude, have you heard a crazy American lady lives here?"

"Yeah, man, she screeches and waves her arms like a wild woman to scare us off."

"I know. It's good for a laugh that's why I keep coming back."

I have to come up with a new plan because my current one is obviously NOT working. Enjoying life in Bucharest....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Two Prayer Requests

Prayer Supporters: Please pray for the Ruth School director, Viktoria, or better known to those that have served at Project Ruth as Tita. Tita will have surgery on Tuesday, Oct 26th, to treat cancer. Ask the Great Physician to guide the doctors and medical staff. Ask the Great Comforter to be present with her and give Tita a peace that comes from faith in God. Pray for good results. Pray for a quick recovery. Ask God to keep his hand upon Tita and for that to be overtly felt by her, her friends, and her family.

Please pray this week for the Gypsy Smith Leadership Training session being held October 25-29. We are expecting about 25 Roma (Gypsy) leaders from across Romania and Moldova. Our instructors for the week at Teun van der Leer and Anne de Vries from The Baptist Union of The Netherlands. Pray for Alex, the GSS Coordinator, as he translates the morning and afternoon sessions, asking God to make his mind work quickly and to give him energy. Pray for the instructors to be led by the Spirit to present the lessons the leaders most need to hear. Pray for the leaders to soak in the information and began to see how they can use it with their own congregations/ministries. Pray for a Spirit of fellowship to prevail during the week. As the week comes to an end pray for safe travels for the students and teachers as they return to their fields of service. Praise God for this wonderful opportunity to share His word.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

M-m-m-m Chocolate Sauce!

Five minutes before guests were due Ralph and I, relaxing in the living room, smelt something burning. Then in what seemed like slow motion the smoke began to roll in. I had forgotten the chocolate sauce on the stove! M-m-m-m looks yummy! Luckily our guests were friends and gracious about the yucky smell throughout our apartment. I wonder what the neighbors were thinking as we opened the door to let the smoke roll out to the stairwell? Those crazy Americans!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sewing? - Say It Isn't So!


** This blog entry is dedicated to my mom, Velma Tucker Foster, with an honorable mention to my Bernie High School Home Economics teacher, Gay Newton Fears (now Gay Newton-Tanner).

Recently while at the Ruth School I saw a little room full of sewing machines. My mind went into overdrive as I remembered the quilting outreach I had attended in Budapest last year. At that time I thought Quilting Clubs among the Roma women just wouldn't work because of the lack of machines. When I saw all those sewing machines I could envision lots of ways to use them. As I began to talk out loud, almost incomprehensible with the words coming out so fast, Mishi, Project Ruth's Executive Director, was instantly on board. The staff has a dream of offering sewing lessons to the girls of the school. One problem - I hate to sew!

My mother is an accomplished seamstress. She made my sister and me beautiful clothes when we lived at home. We had awesome Halloween costumes. She can make just about anything. Mom worked hard to pass this skill on to me. I was NOT a willing pupil. In high school I took the obligatory Home Economics classes (girls took Home Ec, boys took Agriculture and Shop) where Mrs Fears tried to follow-up on my mom's efforts. I was still NOT a willing pupil. I was sure I could live my life and not ever have to sew. WRONG!

God has a great sense of humor. I have spent the last two days taking each sewing machine, cleaning it (they've been sitting for several years), attempting to see if it works, and if not, what can be done to fix it. We're tossing ideas around of how we can use these machines among the older students and as an outreach opportunity with the Roma community. This is surely an example of how God takes talents and skills you have and uses them for His Glory. Me, sewing? My mom is enjoying this immensely!

**Interested? We're looking for a team of 4-6 women to come to Bucharest and teach sewing to girls of the Ruth School and a group of women from the surrounding neighborhood. This would be a great outreach opportunity and a useful skill for the ladies to learn. Contact us for more details if you are interested.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Romania - 1 Month...


(Click on the "x" to get rid of the animal cartoon in the picture box & read titles)

We're celebrating one month in Romania! We have learned to enjoy the delicious pastries (a little too much!), find our way to Project Ruth and the Baptist church, figure out how to buy groceries, admire the beautiful churches, and be impressed by the friendliness of the Romanian people - so many speak great English.

Life in a large apartment building has been an adjustment. For three weeks we were cool since the building wide heat was not turned on. The big "switch on" came last week and now, despite having our radiators off, we have to have the windows open. During this time there was no hot water, only barely warm at best. We have yet to see neighbors on our floor but have grown to be "greeting" acquaintances with others on different floors. Ralph has become friends with the door men, practicing the Romanian he has learned. Up and down in a very small elevator makes carrying in groceries a big task. I am excited about the kitchen that has a huge oven with an electronic dial - no more wooden spoons in the door!

We're just beginning to learn Romanian. It has the usual language challenges of different sounds and combination letters. How do I conjugate this verb or that verb? Romanians are very gracious and patient when we attempt to speak.

We're also just beginning to see what direction to take with the Roma ministry. The Project Ruth staff have been very helpful. The Ruth School students are in full swing for the academic year. Where to jump in?

Thank you for praying for us. Please continue to ask God to give us wisdom and direction. One month and anticipating many more!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sweatshirts for Everyone!


Fall is in the air in Bucharest. The daily temperatures are cool and clouds hang low in the sky. Can winter be far behind? With that in mind, Project Ruth distributed brand new sweatshirts to all the students Friday. Thanks to generous donations from the United Kingdom we were able to haul boxes of school shirts to the classrooms and give each student a warm, cozy sweatshirt to wear on those cold, blistery days of winter.

Jesus said, "...I needed clothes and you clothed me..."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lunch Time at Ruth School


Hot Meal - Every Day Guaranteed! We popped in at the Ruth School recently and the students were enjoying their lunch. Looked Italian to me - pasta with a tomato/meat sauce. The Ruth School provides a hot meal daily - for many of the students it is the only meal they get.

Jesus said,"...For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat..."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Serving the 2nd Generation...

The Ruth School officially began to serve the Roma of the Ferentari neighborhood of Bucharest in 1993. The goal was to make a difference in the loves of Gypsies through education. In those first classes were the two women pictured at the right.

When the newest Project Ruth ministry, the Day Center, opened two weeks ago, these women eagerly brought their own children to the class. They wanted them to have the Ruth School experience.

Project Ruth showing God's love through education and now fostering the next generation...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stories of the Roma

"Colorful But Colorblind, Roma Beyond Stereotypes" is the name of the online posting that gives great information about the Roma of eastern Europe. Take a look at: http://www.roma.glocalstories.org It is very informative.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"fellowship!" features Roma Ministry

The current issue (Oct/Nov) of CBF's publication "fellowship!" is on-line. Take a look at http://thefellowship.info/fellowship! The feature article is on the ministry of Dianne and Shane McNary in Slovakia. It is very informative of the wonderful things God is doing through them among the Romany. There are also two other articles on the Dom Gypsies located in the Middle East and the Banjara Gypsies located in India.

Read the articles and please consider how you might be a part of God's mission among the Roma through praying, giving, and volunteering.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

First Guests...

Now we begin a series of "firsts" since our arrival in Bucharest. Tuesday night we had our first dinner guests. The living room, kitchen, bathrooms, and hallway were ready! The two guest rooms? Well let's just say we have a few more boxes to unpack yet.

Tim Hasty from Aiken, SC, and a supporter of Project Ruth, was visiting and he was our honored guest. (Tim took this picture so he is not in it.) Our other guests were our new Romanian partners and friends, Sorin (pastor & seminary professor), Cami (pharmacist & Oti's wife), Oti (pastor, seminary professor, Union president), and Mishi (Project Ruth executive director). We had a great time.

Did I mention the menu was Hungarian? Goulash! I guess one of my next goals is to learn a few Romanian dishes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Language Learning

"Numele meu este Tammy. Care este numele tau?"
"My name is Tammy. What is yours?"
Our formal language learning began last night. Within the first 10 minutes I discovered I had to unlearn Hungarian as I tired to repeatedly pronounce everything with Magyar phonetics. Mona, our teacher, was very patient to repeat and repeat the sounds. I fear my mix of "Southern" and Hungarian may drive her to the brink!

Today I'm off to speak to everyone (I know the cashiers at the local store will be thrilled. NOT!) and use my phrases of "Good day", "How are you?", "I am fine", - well you get the jest of what we learned the first night. Please add us to your prayer list as we tackle this new language. Ask God to give us, especially me, open minds. Now, I'm off to greet the world!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's the Little Things...

Celebrate with us - the Blinds men came! We live on the 6th floor of a 9 story building surrounded by equally tall buildings. Our windows had no shades, blinds, or curtains. At night we could clearly see into the windows of the apartments across the street so we figured they could see us too. Knowing the days of sunshine are long in the summer we opted to have blinds put in.

The Blinds men came and installed vertical blinds on most of our windows. This meant we no longer had to prop a mattress across the glass. The best part was they came with their own vacuum so as they drilled it sucked up the dust! It is truly the little things in life that make one smile...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ruth School - Preschool Class Begins

Project Ruth was founded to serve the needs of the Roma neighborhood called Ferentari in Bucharest, Romania. This year they took a new step in their quest to break the cycles of poverty through education by beginning a preschool class. This class is designed to prepare these 5-6 year old children for 1st grade. Tuesday morning 11 shiny, newly scrubbed faces made their way to the original Ruth School building to be in the first class. They were accompanied by mothers and younger siblings eager to meet the teacher and see the classroom. After words of welcome, snacks of cookies, a look at their brand new coloring books, and picture taking, the little students walked home with smiles in anticipation of what the next day would bring.

Please pray for their teacher as she prepares and teaches. Pray for the students to have open minds and be eager to learn. Pray for the needed funds to have the preschool as a continual program - to purchase supplies, food, and provide for the teacher. Pray for the safety of the children. Pray for the mission of Project Ruth, making a difference in the lives of Roma children. Pray that through education the cycles of poverty can be broken and that Christ will be seen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"To Live is Christ! Learning to Joyfully Lead Like Him"


268 participants from 38 schools in 14 countries gathered this past week at a former communist camp in the hills of Budapest for 3 days of leadership training. The students and their chaperones were from Christian high schools and eager to learn how to be effective leaders.

It was my privilege to return to Hungary to serve as one of the camp nurses and we were blessed that there were no serious illnesses. We dealt mostly with sore throats and headaches that come with late nights, early mornings, lots of talking, and afternoons of sports.
It was amazing to see so many young people committed to their faith with the desire to share it in their schools. The students soaked in the messages of the speaker as he spoke from Philippians. It was encouraging to see them in their discussion groups and hear the reports of their plans to impact their schools. The room was quiet as one Romanian young man shared how he had survived serious heart surgery through God's grace and the prayers of many in the room. There were cheers as different students talked about how this conference changed their lives. There were tears as some shared heartbreak and asked for prayers as they try to work through them. There were praises offered to the God that loves us all.
I am hopeful for the future...

Monday, September 20, 2010

We're In!

The truck carrying all of our household possessions actually made it across the border quicker than we did. Ralph and I had to stop while our American passports were registered. The truck driver only had to pause long enough to pay a road tax. Thank you for praying. It was certainly a great relief to watch everything go smoothly.

A crew from the local church was on hand to help unload and soon we were crowded into our little apartment with a sea of boxes. The unpacking has begun and we are slowly making finding spots of things.

We appreciate your prayer support as this transition continues...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moving Day!

It's finally here! Our possessions are loaded on the truck and we're off to Romania. Please pray all goes smoothly at the border and we all arrive safely. Bucharest here we come!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

**Prayer Request**

Our final move day is Wednesday, September 15th. On this day the truck comes to pack our household goods for transport to Romania. Please pray that all goes smoothly and safely. The journey is long, 14 hours by car, and the roads are not always in good shape. There is a border and a mountain range to cross. Then upon arrival there are 6 flights of stairs - not everything will fit on the tiny elevator. We are grateful for friends who are helping us on the Hungarian side and the Romanian side to make this move. Thank you for praying.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Five Guys

Maybe when you read the title of this entry your mouth started to water because you thought of one of our favorite USA eating places - "Five Guys Hamburgers" - definitely the best hamburger you'll ever eat! These five guys are our favorites too and they are all partners in the Roma ministry here in Hungary.

When we began our ministry here over 15 years ago we ask God to bring us along side others to partner with. As time passed these four men crossed paths with Ralph. With each having his own set of strengths they began to work together from their love of God and devotion to seeing the Roma come to know Him. They became the committee that oversaw the Roma ministry among Baptists, the sounding board for ideas, the counselors for problems, the accountants for offerings, the trainers for Roma leaders, the providers for the basic needs of many families, and so many more things. These five guys worked together for several years through the ups and downs of ministry. We feel blessed to have served with them.

Last week we had the opportunity to gather with the Five Guys and their wives for a farewell dinner. It was a chance to think back over the years and look how far God has led the Roma mission work. It was also a great opportunity for Ralph and the Guys to express their thanks for each other's dedication to the ministry. Thanks Guys! We thank God for each of you!

Picture Left to Right: Balint Kovacs, Vince Lovas; Ralph Stocks; Tivadar Szegedi; Jozsef Csuhai

Monday, September 6, 2010

Amy is 23!


Our first born, Amy Lee, turned 23 yesterday. We were on the road traveling back from Bucharest and didn't get to post this. We did talk to her by phone and she was having a great celebration at Atlantic Beach with her friends. Isn't she lucky to always have a holiday weekend to help her celebrate? :)
The first picture is bringing her home from the hospital - not sure who those really young people are with her! And the second picture is Amy with her boyfriend, Tyler, when they recently visited Budapest. She's holding a yummy Hungarian pastry called a Kurtos Kalacs.
Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Bucharest Apartment - Prayers Answered!



We saw 10 apartments in two days. Some were laughable with lime green walls and 24 outlets in the living room (it had been a computer business office). I learned quickly not to judge the "books by their covers." By Friday afternoon we had made our choice. The above pictures are of the outside of the building (our apartment is the 3rd set of windows counting down from the top) and the kitchen (yes, it's orange). I will post other pictures of the inside once we are moved in because right now they are just plain white rooms with wood floors.

Thank you for praying for us to find the right place. We feel it is perfect with space to have guests; in the center of Bucharest yet, off the main street enough not to be noisy; near public transportation; a bath and a half; modern kitchen; and an easy-going landlord.

Now we return to Budapest and finish packing. We hope to move our things on September 15th. Please continue to pray for us and the ministry among the Roma of Romania. Please ask God to guide us.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Ralph!

September 1 is Ralph's birthday! We are driving down to Bucharest and will delay the official celebration for a few days. It's a 14 hour drive from Budapest so I told him I will sing "Happy Birthday" every time we stop for a break. He told me not to drink too much because the stops may be few! (big laugh) Happy Birthday! (And we wish our good friend, Glen Adkins - who shares this day with Ralph, a Happy Birthday as well)

Picture: Ralph with his Mom viewing Budapest from a Danube River boat

Szakmarcseke Send-Off

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For a long time now Ralph has traveled with Hungarian pastor, Tivadar Szegedi, to Szatmarcseke the last weekend of the month. They go to counsel, offer encouragement, take supplies, and assist the Roma church members with whatever they can.

This past weekend Ralph and Tivadar made their way to Szatmarcseke as they always do with Tivadar's wife's homemade pogacsa (tiny bisquits), sack lunches, and bottled drinks. It was a busy weekend as they spent time visiting around the area. The Szatmarcseke church members gave Ralph a warm send-off and presented him with a gift to remember those many trips. They assured him he was always welcome back.

Praise the Lord for the growing Roma Baptist Church in Szatmarcseke and the members who worship there. We will miss being a part of their fellowship.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saying Farewell... Hungarian Baptist Union

August 20th is a national holiday in Hungary. The first Sunday after the 20th the Hungarian Baptist Union holds an all day meeting at their camp in the village of Tahi. This year was no exception and the weather was perfect for such an occasion.

This year around 800 people attended, bringing chairs, blankets, and picnic lunches. The Union leadership asked Ralph to attend and to say a few words, knowing we would soon relocate to Bucharest. It was a perfect opportunity because the keynote preacher for the afternoon was Oti Bunaciu - the director of the ministry we will partner with in Romania!

As Ralph got up to speak he remarked it was intimidating for an American to speak Hungarian in front of so many native speakers! He did a fantastic job! He spoke about God's mercy being enough to see us through all of life - II Corinthians 12:9. Jozsi Csuhai, who has ministered closely with Ralph came forward to commend him and offer words of encouragement. The Union presented Ralph with a piece of Hungarian pottery to remember our time here.

It was a wonderful opportunity to see minister partners and to say good-bye to friends. We enjoyed the day and the fellowship. The Hungarian Baptist Union has been very supportive of the Roma ministry and we are thankful they have caught the vision so the ministry moves forward. Praise be to God!

(picture: Oti is on left in background)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Name That Tune

video

The lyrics are Hungarian. Is the tune familiar? It's "How Great Thou Art" being sung at the annual Baptist gathering at camp Tahi on August 22.

(For the non-techie readers - click on the triangle at the bottom left corner of the picture)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Roma Expelled from France...

Below is an article posted on the CNN International web site. I'm not sure how much of this story is reaching the USA. It has stirred the pot of anger, discrimination, and persecution across Europe. There are many different opinions being voiced.

Paris, France (CNN) -- Some of the Roma deported from France said Friday they plan to return as soon as possible. They flew Thursday to Romania on a French flight, the first of several scheduled to take Roma out of France in the coming days.

The French government says the deportations are part of a crackdown on illegal immigration. They follow the government's dismantling in the past three weeks of 51 Roma camps that it called illegal.

"Over there, they were giving us food, money ... salary. Life is much better out there -- happier," Mariana Serban, a mother of four, told Romania's Realitatea TV. She told the reporter she did not work in France, and smiled when the reporter pointed out France would not give them any more money. "That's what they say now, but they will give us money again," Serban said.

Serban's oldest son, Alexandru, 12, spoke in French as he told the TV station, "It's much better in France. I'm here now for a visit, and I will leave again. I'm staying here for two days only."

The Thursday flight carried 79 Roma out of the country, French officials said. Friday's flight, due to land in the Romanian city of Timisoara in the afternoon, had 132 Roma aboard, according to the office of Valentin Mocanu, Romania's secretary of state for Roma integration.

French officials earlier said the third flight would happen Saturday, but the Romanian Foreign Ministry said it would take place August 26 and carry 159 Roma. The ministry said there will also be two flights next month, carrying 27 Roma from France to Romania.

France offered 300 euros ($384) to each Roma adult and 100 euros ($128) to each Roma child who accepted the offer for a "voluntary return."

The comments by the returning Roma may dash any French hopes that they will resume their former lives in Romania. "They will go and meet their parents and other relatives, and after that they will return to France, I'm telling you," Adrian Edu, an expert on Roma issues with the Bucharest City Hall, told PRO TV.

Roma are a group of people who live mainly in southern and eastern Europe, often in poverty. Commonly referred to as Gypsies, they tend to live in camps, caravans, or informal settlements and have been the target of persecution throughout history.

Romanian President Traian Basescu said in a statement Thursday that his country would try to find a solution to the French situation. "We understand the problems Roma camps create around French cities, and we will work with France to find suitable solutions," he said.

Roma from Romania and Bulgaria are allowed free passage into France if they are European Union citizens. After that, however, they must find work, start studies, or find some other way of becoming established in France or risk deportation. The French government said those Roma being deported this week have overstayed the three-month limit.

Two Romanian secretaries of state plan to be in Paris on August 30 to discuss the integration of Roma populations, the French Foreign Ministry said. It said Paris favors the social integration of the Roma in Romania.

Mocanu's office said local authorities try to integrate the returning Roma into the workforce, offering jobs to those who come back. Roma are not obligated to accept the job offers, however, and most of the time they don't, resulting in their return to the country from where they came, the office said.

CNN's Sarah Goddard in Paris, France, and Journalist Cosmin Stan in Bucharest, Romania, contributed to this report.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Faithful...Meet Laszlo Antal

Meet our friend and ministry partner, Laszlo Antal (on the right in the picture). Laszlo is a retired Hungarian businessman living with his wife in the town of Szentendre. He is a layleader in the local Baptist church there. Laszlo has a heart for the Roma people. This is seen through his deep commitement to the Roma Baptist Church in Csobanka. Sunday after Sunday, despite the ups and downs of membership, the weather conditions, often the lack of a musician, Laszlo comes faithfully to support the church through teaching, preaching, praying, and serving as treasurer. This love for the Roma is seen in his steady voice and calm attitude toward whatever may happen. Laszlo has been making his way on Sunday afternoons to Csobanka for several years now. Please join us in praising God for those He has called out and their commitment to be faithful to that calling. Pray asking God to call more workers and that those He calls will say yes.