Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Picture: Ralph with his Mom viewing Budapest from a Danube River boat
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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
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
Saturday, August 21, 2010
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
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
We firmly believe saying good bye is important. This past Sunday we celebrated with our home church in Csobanka. Ralph spoke telling a few stories about some of the members and thanking them for their support. Three of the members also spoke giving words of blessing and encouragement to us in our move to Bucharest. After the service we had a time of fellowship with cake and coke.
Thank you Csobanka Roma Baptist Church! Aldjon meg as Ur! (God bless you!)
Sunday, August 15, 2010
In Hungary we do not have the tradition of "yard sales". Instead you load up your good junk and go to the market. This past Saturday Ralph and I found ourselves setting up a table in the dark on the main street of a little town just outside of Budapest. Our friend, Zita Csuhai, was there to help us stake our claim on a good corner with a used clothing salesman and a man dealing in pajamas. We were across the street from a guy selling any kind of underwear you care to describe or imagine. This all happened around 5AM! I haven't seen that time of day in a while!
The crowd started around 7-7:30AM and were curious about these Americans selling used stuff. Some people stopped to ask questions while others just gawked. (I think they were amazed at how badly I butchered their language!) Zita's parents stopped by for a few bargains and a good-bye chat.
It was a great cultural experience and we had a fun time too. We were finished and on our way home by 10:30. I have a whole new respect for the tradesmen who make their living that way. I am vowing to try to shop locally from the little vendors more.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Today we took Hunter to live with his new family. They have 4 kids - all still living at home and VERY excited to have a dog.
We took Hunter for one last walk since he has been our faithful walking companion for several years. After a bath, which he hated, we loaded up the car to stop by the vet's for a quick check-up. He was eager and we laughed saying he probably thought he was going to Vaughans' house (our good friends who dog sit and spoil him with belly scratches). Hunter was a bit confused when we got out at the Masons' house but quickly realized he was in dog heaven. The kids were eager to pet him, feed him snacks, and show him around their house. Yes, he will have a wonderful dog's life!
Thank you Hunter! You were a loyal pet. Have fun with your new family.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Please pray for us as we transition:
- Pray God will clearly show us the ministry He wants us to do in Romania. There are many needs.
- Pray for our transition - saying good-bye to 15 years of life and friends in Hungary.
- Ask God to provide adequate housing within a close proximity to Project Ruth.
- Offer praise that our dog has found a loving home with children.