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

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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saying Good Bye in Csobanka

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

Selling Our Junk

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

Hunter Gets Adopted

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

Family Visits

It was the fastest two weeks of our lives! Amy and Josh, our children, with Amy's boyfriend, Tyler, and Ralph's mom, Doris, came to visit. It wasn't planned this way but it turned into a good-bye, let's-do-this-for-the-last-time party since we are re-locating to Romania. We even loaded up the gang for a trip back to Derecske, the village where we spent our first term. It was great for Amy and Josh to see old friends and for Tyler to hear lots of stories from their childhood. They are now back in the USA preparing for school to start - back to regular life for us all...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What? Surely NOT?!

This an actual candy bar I saw at my local neighborhood store. I laughed out loud! I bought it just to bring it home to take a picture. I can't imagine what the ad agency was thinking that thought up this campaign. Or maybe it's a bad translation... Either way it is good for smile!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We're Moving to Romania!

Many of our prayer supporters have joined us in asking God for guidance and discernment over this past year. The Roma ministry in Hungary is functioning well with local leadership and has been for a while. All things considered it seemed like a good time to change. Many factors were considered and we felt God's leading to move to Bucharest, Romania. Ralph will continue to do the same kind of ministry he does in Hungary while I, Tammy, will serve closely with Project Ruth, a long-time ministry of CBF. We have for many years lived in Hungary and assisted with ministry in Romania. Now we will do just the opposite. We hope to move mid-September or before.
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.