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:


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Emerywood Baptist Church Team Arrives

How does one best get over jet lag in Bucharest?  By taking in a few of the sights of course!  The ministry team from Emerywood Baptist Church, High Point, NC, arrived yesterday for a week of ministry at Project Ruth.  We gave them a day to recuperate before they begin their week tomorrow.  You see them pictured here in front of Parliament, the 2nd largest building in the world.  They also experienced Romanian fast food in the form of shaorma (similar to gyro).  The day came to a close with a tour of the Ruth School and a warm lasagna supper in the cafeteria (not your typical school cafeteria fare!)  Tomorrow we are off to Glina to worship at the Roma church where the team will sing and give testimonies.  It's a reminder of how great our God is when we can worship together despite not sharing a common language.  Sunday evening the team will be at Providence Romanian Baptist Church.  The church's mandolin choir is truly a worshipful experience.  Then Monday comes... Kids, moms, teachers, sports, crafts, staff training, OH MY!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Hittin' The Ground Running..." GSS & Hairbows

"Ah-h-h-h, home sweet home."  We arrived back in Bucharest September 29th after our summer of off-field assignment.  I will admit after nearly 18 years of saying good bye it does not get easier.  We had a fruitful time of seeing family & friends, relaxing with our children, and sharing the stories of Project Ruth and Roma ministry.  With touchdown in Bucharest our feet hit the ground and we were back into the swing of things before jet lag had even reared its ugly head!

 The fall Gypsy Smith School for Church Leaders session began on Monday.  Dr Roy DeBrand and Dr Andy Tooze, both from North Carolina, were the leaders.  The sessions were lively with discussions as the Roma leaders continued their quest to learn to serve their churches as best they can.  The group was small because the weather was unseasonably warm.  This means the men have more opportunities to work and they have to take advantage of that.  Often the work they find in the fall must get their families through the winter.  It was hard to be disappointed in a small number for class when we knew it meant a better life for others.

Carolyn DeBrand journeyed to Bucharest with her husband.  (Carolyn & Roy are good friends.  Roy officiated at our daughter's wedding.)  Carolyn is a gifted artist and we put her to work.  She went into our newest class, Zero (in between kindergarten and first grade), and taught them the basics of drawing.  Carolyn also spent time with the Naomi ladies showing them how to make a bag from a place mat and how to make hair bows.  The ladies giggled like schoolgirls with the hair ornaments!

One of our newest endeavors at Project Ruth is trying to help the older students as they transition from the Ruth School into high school.  So we have begun building relationships with these students to help identify their needs.  Carolyn helped by offering two sessions of hair bow making for the girls.  They had a blast.  With the gift of a smiley face sticker she spoke on "God Loves a Cheerful Giver."   She emphasized that while most people think that means giving money or material possessions, we really have so much more we can give that is free.  She listed smiles, friendship, love, a helping hand - just to name a few.  A timely message for middle school girls.