Sunday, December 25, 2011

Silent Night

As Ralph and I walked through the park on Christmas Eve we were discussing the church service to be held that evening. In our Romanian church it is typically a time for the children's program. It has been our family tradition to go to church on Christmas Eve and kids are cute in any culture so we had decided to attend. However, I said to Ralph, "I really miss those Christmas Eve services where we sing the traditional songs, hear the Luke scripture of Christ's birth, and end with the church in darkness singing "Silent Night" as the ripple of candles being lit goes across the room.

Personally, I think God knew what my heart needed. The children were great and the youth choir also sang beautifully. We sang a few traditional hymns, although in Romanian, I knew the words and sang in English. (not sure it was worshipful for those around me. :) Then just as the leader got up and announced the last song the electricity went out. He said, "Let's sing anyway." As the words of "Silent Night" were heard the congregation began to pull out their cell phones and the lights rippled across the sanctuary. It was a beautiful moment! "Silent Night, Holy Night..."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Together in Romania at Christmas
Our family wishes you a blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thank you Anna!

Last week we said good-bye to Anna Holladay our Ministry Assistant.  She came to us and Project Ruth for 3 months through CBF's Student.GO program.  Anna had a "can-do" attitude and did all we asked with a smile.  She helped in so many areas that her return to the USA leaves a big hole.  The students loved her, the staff relied on her, and we had a lot of laughs together.  Thank you Anna for your servant heart and your willingness to follow where God leads.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Deck The Halls...

Meet our 8th grade English Club.  The goal of club is for the students to practice their English, hear us use English, and have fun doing both.  This past week we decided to let them decorate the Christmas tree in the cafeteria.  We counted on the girls enjoying the task and thought the boys would be so-so.  Wrong!  The guys were as excited as the girls. It was a fun activity and one we used to help build the feeling of leadership among our oldest students.  "Deck the Halls..."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mos Nicolae

December 6th is a big day for the children of Romania.  The night before they spiff up their shoes and leave them in a prominent place for Mos Nicolae (a Santa figure) to find.  Mos Nicolae places small toys or candy in the shoes.  When the children awaken on Dec 6th they have a surprise waiting.
The 1st and 2nd grades at the Ruth School got a great big surprise on Tuesday when the Romanian United Way sent a group from the InMedio business to provide a Mos Nicolae program.  The library took on the look of a busy bee hive with children in clusters making ornaments, coloring, drawing cards for their parents, using glue and glitter, and generally having a GREAT time.  The InMedio people brought in yummy desserts, candy, and soda for the students as well.  (The sugar high hit as the children were on their way home!)  As each student left they were given a big hug and a gift bag of school supplies and chocolate. 

Thank you United Way and InMedio!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making Chrismons at Providence Baptist Church

 "Take the wire and crisscross through the crystal bead then add a gold bead..."  What do you know about making Chrismons?  The ladies at Providence Baptist Church gathered Saturday to learn how to do this beautiful art.  Chrismons are ornaments that are monograms of Christ and hung on Christmas trees to help keep us focused on the real meaning of Christmas.

Thanks to Rufty's Chrismon Shop in Salisbury and Carol Danforth of Knollwood Baptist in Winston Salem I learned how to make a few of the easy patterns.  (I originally learned about Chrismons 22 years ago while at College Park Baptist Church, our sending church.)  The ladies made an eternal wreath representing Christ's never ending love and an angel who heralded the news of Christ birth. 
The ladies were so enthusiastic we made extras to decorate the sanctuary tree.  It was a fun day and we're already making plans to do Chrismons in the spring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

American Thanksgiving with a Romanian Flair

"We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessings..."  Last Saturday the Americans of Project Ruth (Ralph, Anna Holladay, Brittany Garton, and me) hosted a traditional Thanksgiving meal for our Romanian friends.  I began by telling the story of the pilgrims coming to the New World in 1620 and what a hard winter it was.  The Native American Indians helped them greatly by showing them how to adapt to their new surroundings.  I compared this to how our Romanian friends had done the same thing for us.  We came to a new place and they helped us to settle in, teaching us about their language and culture.  This was our way of saying thank you just as they did many years ago.  Although I doubt they had sweet potato casserole and pumpkin roll! 

We had all the traditional foods thanks to many hours of scouring the Bucharest stores and to Rick Landon hauling over a few items in his suitcase in October.  (Thank you again, Rick!) (Yes, we had to start thinking about it that early!)  We had activities for the kids - pasta necklace making, pilgrims on spoons, and coloring pages.  After unbuttoning our pants, another traditional activity, we spent the afternoon enjoying each other's company.  As our guests departed we presented each with a candy cane explaining in our culture the end of the Thanksgiving celebration signals the beginning of Christmas.  "Joy to the World..."

Gypsy Smith School - Nov 2011

"No room in the inn" is a phrase we hear as Christmas draws near.  Last week we were repeating it as we discussed the high attendance of Roma leaders for the Gypsy Smith School.  Our dormitory was full and we had to bring in a couple of mattresses for the overflow.  It was a nice problem to have and shows how the leaders are hungry for Biblical teaching.  Our teachers, Hans Riphagen and Marco de Vos, were from the Baptist Union of The Netherlands.  It was a good week as they taught on Christology and Characters of the Old Testament.  At the end of the week we celebrated with a graduation service for Loredan who had completed his eight sessions.

During November we take time to count our blessings and we are grateful for the Gypsy Smith School.  We are thankful for the students who come eager to learn, the teachers who diligently prepare the lessons, the pray-ers who lift up the sessions, and those that financially support this program.  Thank you, God for your provision!