Saturday, December 29, 2012

December Celebrations Galore!

All the Ruth students got shoes.
December was a busy month of ministry for us.  It started with all the students receiving 'new-to-them' shoes.  Fitting 200 students for shoes was quite a job!  This was followed by the December session of the Gypsy Smith School.  The students led in chapel and the Ruth students were enthralled.  Is there any better example in life than a Roma who has chosen to lead a Christian life and be a leader in his church?  The men also went home with new dress shirts and ties (thanks to leaders Courtney Krueger and Jack Couch from South Carolina) and new sweatshirts for their children (thanks to supporters in  England).

Next we began decorating and trees seemed to pop up everywhere.  The largest one in the cafeteria is traditionally decorated by our 8th grade class and we celebrate with cupcakes.  We covered the walls in snowflakes and added lights here and there.  It gave the big room a warm feeling.

Dec GSS students leading in chapel
Then it was on to parties and gifts!  We had to sort and label all the Christmas boxes for distribution to the Ruth students.  Definitely a highlight of the year is seeing their smiling faces - especially the little ones.  We also celebrated with the staff at a luncheon where laughter was abundant and the food was delicious!  The Naomi ladies celebrated too with a Christmas craft and pizza.  They were ready to fellowship after spending several weeks sewing crafts for sale to make a little extra money for their families.

Naomi Christmas party - making wreaths

We also made Christmas bags for a pastor friend's prison ministry, distributed clothes to needy families, decorated at the church, baked lots of cookies, and did a host of other activities for the Advent season.  By the time Christmas week arrived we were ready to be still and enjoy the beautiful Christmas music at the Providence Baptist Church worship services. 

It has been a wonderful celebration of our Saviour's birth...  Now on to 2013!

Ruth staff party - lots of laughing!

Ruth students receive Christmas boxes
8th grade decorated the school tree

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving - A Feast for Friends

Like most Americans the third Thursday of November our thoughts turn to giving thanks.  We actually start thinking about it weeks earlier as I begin the search for the ingredients to make the traditional holiday foods.  Last year Ralph, Brittany, and I began a new tradition of making Thanksgiving lunch for our Romanian friends.  As you know the celebration began  many years ago when the Native Americans helped the newcomers from the Old World survive their first winter in their new country.  So the Europeans repaid the Native Americans by hosting a feast.  We tell our Romanians friends

that they are our Native Americans (they laugh wholeheartedly at this!).  They help us survive in a country and a culture that is not our own.  So we invite all those who have befriended us and helped us over the past year.  Let me say the list of guests gets longer and longer as we are blessed with such wonderful friends!  This year we feasted on many of our traditional Thanksgiving foods followed by the kids playing Wii while the ladies made bead bracelets.  I think I can honestly say a good time was had by all!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"And You Clothed Me..."

 One of the wonderful things about serving at Project Ruth is being around the children and seeing their joy over simple things.  This past week we distributed warm clothing to nearly all 220 kids from the tiniest of the preschoolers to the tallest of the 8th graders.  Project Ruth has always been a cooperative effort with many entities contributing.  Nothing proves this more than the clothing distribution.

Through partners in England a uniform company (American readers FYI - British students wear uniforms to school) sent us boxes of warm sweatshirts, soccer jerseys, and blazers.  World Vision contributed girls blouses and jackets.  A group of ladies knitted warm hats and scarves.  A church in North Carolina donated thick, cozy socks.  Several groups with the same purpose - to provide warm clothing for disadvantaged children living in a part of the world where winters are harsh.

We sorted the clothing into sections and allowed the students to choose.  While this took longer than the usual way of simply handing them a shirt, it was worth the effort.  The students giggled and "shopped" while trying on the various articles of clothing.  Each child went home that day with a bag of items to help keep them warm during the frigid temperatures to come.

We at Project Ruth are grateful for the support of so many who take seriously sharing God's love with others.
"And You Clothed Me..."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

City of Bucharest - We Need Heat!

Br-r-r-r-r, it's cold outside!  Just a few days ago the Ruth School was without electricity.  Well, technically we had electricity but it kept going off, making it hard to work or have school.  I was told the electric grid was overwhelmed because so many people were using small electric heaters in their homes.  What's the deal?

You see, a great majority of Bucharest lives in block apartments.  These are buildings erected during the communist era.  Their heating systems are controlled by the authorities.  So each fall someone decides when the heat should be turned on and again in the spring someone decides when to turn the heat off.  I'm sure they have a system or at least that's what I like to think.

The apartment blocks in Ferentari where the school is located do not have heat.  So people were using electric heaters to stay warm.  Thus the overwhelming of the electric grid.  At our apartment we simply added another layer of clothing and drink hot tea all day.  I find myself reaching out to touch the radiator often.  Nothing yet. 

City Leaders!  If you read my blog - please turn on the heat!

Just another day in eastern Europe...

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Week of Extremes...

I'm rarely surprised by what I observe at the Ruth School.  It sits in the middle of a very poor neighborhood and our students come from very impoverished and often sad home situations.  We have a variety of parents and grandparents that are responsible for these students and often they are spirited, colorful people.

This week we had two mothers openly curse the school and one was waving a big stick!  Each at different times kicked the ground, waved their arms, and spit at the school while loudly screaming words few could understand.  I find this amusing since we are a Christian school and our hope is in Christ Jesus.  We don't worry about such curses and usually just let the women go on until they lose interest. (as long as they are not hurting anyone or disturbing classes)  They were mad and it showed!

On Thursday we had a party for Monica, a regular at our sewing club at the Naomi Center.  She is due to have a baby in November and this was her last day.  We celebrated by giving her a small gift and eating cake in Monica's honor.  Without prompting the other ladies in attendance that day began to give advice and some hugged Monica wishing her well.  We all agreed that we hoped and prayed for a healthy baby with a quick delivery.  Monica was touched.  She told me this made her feel so special.  No one had done anything just for her in a very long time.  She thanked all of us over and over.  This group of women are becoming a community of support for one another.

It was a week of extremes - we went from curses to blessings.  I'll take the blessings any time!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Emerywood - Final Day

It was hard to believe the final day was upon us. The week had flown by with the many activities organized by the Emerywood team. Even though it was the last day the team still greeted the students and teachers with great enthusiasm! The 7th and 8th graders had Olympic games while the 3rd grade class had their turn at the Skittles game and a craft. Our teaching consultants tied up a few loose ends by meeting with the principal and a few teachers. Then it was time for Closing Ceremonies. As each class came to lunch they were greeted with praise for a job well done. Each student's name was called out and with claps they received a Scoala Rut (Ruth School) sticker and a medal for participating in the week's activities. The fun didn't stop there! Lunch was chips and hot dogs (both a rarity in the menu cycle) and a chance to sit to view a slide show of pictures of the week.

Thank you Emerywood for sharing of yourselves with the Ruth School students and staff, and the Naomi women. They will talk about these days for a long time as they proudly wear their medals, earrings, and purses. They will remember the hugs, smiles, and pats on the back. As the staff implements the suggestions made by the teaching consultants your influence will hopefully be seen for years to come as Project Ruth continues to serve the underprivileged in the Ferentari community. This week you were the hands and feet of Christ. Blessings to the team and to the church for their support.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Emerywood - Thursday

Today there was a chill in the air but the 1st graders were still full of energy as they poured onto the soccer court.  Their play time consisted of learning to stand in line and move with the whistle blasts.  Most of them did well. :)  The 5th and 6th graders had their Olympic games while the 2nd graders got to do crafts and eat Skittles.  The women at the Naomi center learned about breast cancer and the importance of caring for one's health.  There were lots of chuckles as we discussed the ways that God made us uniquely as women.  They enjoyed decorating little black bags and making earrings.  The ladies on the Emerywood team spent the afternoon with the 7th and 8th grade girls.  These young ladies caught between childhood and adulthood needed the extra attention and beamed with the hugs, smiles and conversations directed toward them.  The evening meals in the Ruth School cafeteria are delicious and the Romanian interpreters join us in the fellowship.  They teach us a lot about their country, culture, and language during these times around the table.  It was a great day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Emerywood - More of the Same But Even Better!

A day of chapel, crafts, sports, and teacher training. The team members were all going in different directions as they used their expertise to share God's love with the students and staff at the Ruth School. The day started off with chapel where the theme was "Jesus is the Light of the World." The kids were surprised when the team sang "Thy Word is a Lamp unto my Feet and a Light unto my Path" in Romanian! Next it was on to a sports clinic for the 7th and 8th grade boys while the girls made bracelets and ate Skittles. Activities they all enjoyed immensely. In the meantime the staff was attending a teacher training session where not only ideas flowed but the pizza and coke did as well. After a quick regrouping it was back to the dorm to prepare for Thursday where more hugs and attention will be lovingly given out in abundance. Thank you Emerywood!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Emerywood - Crafts, Crafts and More Crafts Plus Olympics

Crafts can teach a number of different lessons and today we saw that in action. The youngest students drew, counted, recited their colors, listened quietly to directions, learned how to stand in a straight line, and be good helpers. The Skittles game was a big hit especially once the kids learned they got to eat the candy. The Olympic games were a bit more sophisticated since the participants were 3rd and 4th graders. They did various relays and worked off a lot of excess energy. Their teachers were very grateful! The Ruth teachers all received a bag of classroom supplies and I do believe I heard little shouts of joy when they saw what was inside. Thanks Emerywood for making this a fantastic, fun-filled day for students and teachers alike.

Since Wednesday and Thursday will be filled to the brim with activities of all kinds we took the afternoon to see a bit of the city - Revolution Square and the Village Museum. After a leisurely supper it was back to work getting everything prepped for tomorrow.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Emerywood - Olympics, Sports, Jewelry, and Teaching Tips - Day 1

The day dawned cool and foggy. However, the sun soon popped out and the games began. The 1st and 2nd graders competed with each other in the first round of the Olympics. They raced around the cones and their laughter was heard through the neighborhood. While over at the Naomi Center a group of women learned how to make beautiful jewelry with just a few simple steps. The afternoon was spent teaching basketball skills to 5th and 6th grade boys while the girls (and a couple of adventuresome boys) made necklaces and ping pong games. Meanwhile the Ruth School teachers were fine tuning the new assertive discipline program and learning new ways to control their classrooms. To some one casually observing it may have looked like chaos but it was a great day with teachers, students, and their moms getting special attention. Today the love of Christ was shown with hugs, basketball hoops, and pats on the back.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Emerywood & Worship

"Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet..."  with the words from Psalm 119 made popular by the artist Amy Grant, the Emerywood ministry team shared in worship today at the Roma Baptist church in the village of Glina and at Providence Baptist, a Romanian church.  At the Roma church Judy and Al shared a personal testimony about their faith and Clista gave a word of greeting at Providence.  Clista brought the greetings and the assurance of prayers from the Emerywood members.

Then it was on to lunch at a local restaurant called "La Mama" which translates something close to "Grandma's."  And it was typical home cooked style Romanian food.  As is the tradition on Sundays there were 4 courses - luckily we asked for half portions or I'm not sure everyone could have gotten out of their chairs!  Everyone will long remember the best dessert ever - Papa nash!  (a big donut ball with sour cream, fruit sauce, and powdered sugar.  Yummy!)

The afternoon was spent in preparation for Monday.  Piles of supplies were organized into smaller piles, while teacher supplies were bundled, sports equipment was checked, brownies were baked, and a whole host of other activities were completed.

Tomorrow is the busiest of days with the Olympics, teacher in-service, sports clinic, moms craft time, and girls craft time.  We need lots of prayer for energy, patience, stamina, and good weather.

Below are a few pictures from Sunday: