Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Young Romany Man's Response to "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"

Dear Supporters,
While in the USA last year and channel surfing I happened upon a TLC show called "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding". It is an import from Great Britain. I was appalled at what I saw and knew this was not a representation of the Romany I know. As Ralph and I met with friends and partners we were asked again and again about the show. Each time I would explain the Romany we call friends are in no way like any part of the show. I asked people to please NOT view it and to write to TLC asking them to take it off.

I am sharing with you a letter written by a young Romany man who openly disputes the depiction of Romany on the show. Please join me in boycotting the show and writing TLC requesting it be taken off the air. Let's take a stand for the Romany!

Thank you,
Tammy Stocks
CBF Field Personnel
Ministry among the Romany
Romania and Hungary

"Dear Channel 4, I am writing to you with the hope that you will stop ruining my life. While your obsession with my ethnicity is flattering, it has become somewhat apparent to me that you might have gotten the wrong end of the stick. This is sort of awkward for me, because I don’t want to be the one to break it to you, but your documentary, ’Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’, is unfortunately a work of fiction. There is no need to be embarrassed, it can happen to the best of us, and thus I hope my letter will help you establish the facts, after all I’m sure you are passionate about fighting discrimination against ethnic minorities. Don’t be modest now, we know you are…right?

It surprised me to discover that 99% of Britain’s Gypsy and Traveller population are Irish. Correct me if I’m wrong, as I am sure you have done lots and lots of research on this topic, but just 10% of the Gypsy and Traveller population are actually Irish Travellers. The majority, like myself, are in fact Romany, yet your ‘documentary’ seems to ignore our existence ..."- Romany person in the Open Letter of protest to Channel 4.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Planning, Praying, and Playing in Portugal

Our Gypsy Team minus our newest, the Parks
After what many have claimed to be the worst winter in eastern Europe in 30 years, the Romany team members gladly traveled from their respective locations to warm, sunny Lisbon, Portugal. One of the advantages of living in Europe is the ability to utilize low-cost, budget airlines and to travel during the off-season making such a trip economical and renewing all at the same time.

Overlooking the city of Lisbon in SUNSHINE!
We spent three days planning strategy, sharing ideas, fellowshipping, and praying for one another. Any time this team is together there is lots of laughter and a few tears. We were joined by Becky and Jim Smith, our supervisors, from Atlanta. We were also pleased that our newest team members, Jon and Tanya Parks, who remain in the USA raising support for their transition to Slovakia, were also able to join us for an afternoon session through the miracle of technology.

We were grateful for the time to renew physically, emotionally, and spiritually surrounded by the trust and friendship of team members and the beauty of Portugal. Thank you Lord for this blessing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Digging Out...Snow Everywhere...

Trenches for cars to drive in - mostly they got stuck
 The sun is shining and the temps are hovering right at freezing - it feels like a heat wave!  Romanians are out in force with shovels digging out from the snow storm of the century. 
Piles as high as Ralph.
 The Ruth School students missed another day of school this week when our third snow storm hit.  Kids being kids, you could see them having snowball fights and enjoying
"Dude, Where's My Car?"
the snow despite the bitter cold.

It may be weeks before all of this melts.  Right now the storm drains are clogged with ice so slush is ankle deep.  Then it freezes over again making navigating the streets a challenge.

Please continue to pray for those digging out and those having a difficult time with heat, food, and warm clothing.

Please Lord, bring on the sunshine.  We're ready!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deep Freeze Continues...

For the second week in a row the Ruth School will be closed for a few days because of the weather.  The television keeps reminding us we were "code orange" but for today and at least tomorrow we'll be "code yellow".  I have no idea what the codes mean but I do know it serious.  Roads throughout the country are closed, avalanches are reported in the mountain areas, drifts are up to roof tops in villages, cars are stuck on back roads, and young men look like chain gangs carrying shovel around to help stranded cars.  They are calling this the "storm of the century".  Our day time temperatures hover in the teens Fahrenheit but with the wind chill they deep drastically.  From our 6th floor window the falling show is beautiful but I know it causes problems for our Roma friends.  They struggle to keep their homes warm under the best of circumstances.  No school means no hot lunch for many of our Ruth students.  Please join us in praying for an end to the deep freeze and for provision of those in need.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mexican Fiesta, A-a-a-r-r-riba!

Hot food on a snowy night is always
S'more bar at the Fiesta (I know it's not Mexican)
And when it's spicy Mexican tacos it's even better! Ralph and I, with the help of Brittany, put on a Mexican Fiesta for the youth at Providence Baptist Church. (Romanian church we attend)

With a little instruction the youth soon had tortillas that were overflowing with all the fixin's.  The music was festive and the laughter loud.

Ovi & Stephan realize how messy s'mores can be
Next it was on to the s'more table for a really new experience.  With inspiration from my sister, I had set up sterno cans for roasting marshmallows and had all the goodies for making s'mores (chocolate and cookies).  Just in case they were a little worried about this strange thing the Americans were asking them to do - I also had mini marshmallows for them to sample first.  This table was busy all night as the youth discovered why this delicious treat is called s'more!

What's a fiesta without a pinata?
A-a-a-r-r-riba!  Thank you Lord for good times!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Romania - Deep Freeze

Hard to teeter-totter when the snow is deep
 It started last week when it snowed for two days straight.  The temperatures dropped to well below freezing - in the teens for our daily highs.  Next the wind began to blow and the temperatures really fell.  And it is not over yet!

This is tough weather for anyone.  It is difficult to walk on the slick sidewalks, cars cannot stop and there are many accidents, chimneys are spewing smoke
Front door of our building
 and grocery stores are packed with people purchasing food to "hunker" down. 

Please pray for the elderly, the poor, and the young who are the most vulnerable to this extreme weather.  Pray for the many Roma who struggle to heat their homes.  Pray for the Ruth School's heating system to bear up under the demands to keep the building warm.  Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow...
Looking down from the 6th floor - it doesn't look bad