Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making New Friends

This is my new friend, Joke (JO-ka).  We bonded while washing hundreds of silver bowls, sorting clothes, and various other things at the Ruth School.  Joka is from The Netherlands and came with her husband, Pier, while he was teaching at the Gypsy Smith School.  She had asked us to use her in any way possible while he taught and we did!  Joka has a servant's heart and I'm glad we got to spend the week together.  Meeting wonderful people like Joka is one of the great perks of my job and I love it!
"Make New Friends But Keep the Old
One is Silver and the Other's Gold."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Sail On... Lessons Learned"

“Cast up your sails
And let the wind blow
Jesus will never
Let your ship lose control
Sail on…”
(Imperials, 1977)
Building miniature sail boats turned into a week of learning life lessons for the 8th grade class at the Ruth School recently.  Led by master sailor and builder, Fred Clifford, member of a team from Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston Salem, NC, the students learned the basic parts of boats, how to use a compass, and why boats float.  They also heard the story of Jesus calming the storm and calling Peter to walk on water.  They learned to start a project, finish it, and feel good about their work.  They learned to work together and the joy of being rewarded for a job well done.  The week of lessons culminated in a lunch trip for cheeseburgers and an afternoon of sailing their boats on the lake at the local park.  The students basked in the special attention and heard the message, through the building of sailboats, you are loved.  “Sail on…”

Monday, October 28, 2013

"They are not Thieves, They are Men"

This is a re-share from the CBF Romany Ministry Blog.  A 'must' read to help understand Romany ministry...

A story about Shane and Dianne McNary was recently published on the Fuller Seminary website.  It's a moving and very informative article about poverty, weddings, and the "G-word."  Go to www.fuller.edu or click the image below for the direct link to the article:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Headstands Aren't Just for Kids

Yes, that's Tammy standing on her head!
"Hey Ms Tammy, watch this!"  Mark expertly did a headstand.
"Hey Mark, watch this!"  With those words I found myself (foolishly) trying to imitate the 2nd grader with endless amounts of energy, an impish smile, and a lover of bear hugs.

I give many of the Ruth School students bear hugs and the attention they crave.  But Mark is special to me.  Ralph and I support the Ruth School Scholarship program and Mark is our assigned student.  He doesn't know we pray for him, give toward his school supplies or keep up with his progress.  He just thinks I'm an unpredictable, crazy lady!

Everyone who contributes to the scholarship program knows the name of their student and gets an update twice a year.  We're blessed to be able to see our little Mark regularly as he learns and grows.  We see first hand the difference $30 a month can make in the life of a child.  Would you consider making a difference in the lives of children in Bucharest?  Look at our website: http://projectruth.ro , write Project Ruth at office@projectruth.ro  Or give through our CBF project: Ruth School, #80185

Monday, September 2, 2013

Story Telling With a Twist

Can you guess what story we were telling at Summer Club?  Stefan, our resident clown, is pretending to be a fish out of water.  Is that a big hint?  If you guessed Moses parting the Red Sea, you'd be right.  Whenever we tell a story or teach a Biblical truth we try to be as interactive as possible.  In this instance a "Moses" was selected to lead the Israelites (all the children) across the sea.  They could feel the water mist (our helpers with spray bottles) as they walked through the blue alley.  There were fish and creatures on the water walls to make it more realistic.  It was a parade with giggles and marching along.  The children learned to trust God to help them in tough situations.  And hopefully they went home to tell their parents about walking through the Red Sea.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Roma in Eastern Europe - Time Magazine

I am sharing a post from the blog of our Romany Team colleagues, Tanya and Jon Parks in Slovakia.  They offer two disclaimers for this Time Magazine article that I agree with.  The problems nor the solutions are simple and the discrimination is very real.


Monday, August 19, 2013

No Water for the Roma and Other Poor of Ozd, Hungary

8/26/13 Update:  The mayor was forced to turn the water back on.

Recently this article was forwarded to us and I read it with disbelief!  A mayor has cut off the water tap to the Roma section of the village because they are misusing it.  What?!?!  Hungary, like most of Eastern Europe is experiencing one of the hottest summers on record.  I agree with the article that this is a health and safety issue.  How can anyone in their right mind think it's OK to deny water to other human beings?  This mayor should be impeached or even better be forced to stand in the sun in the town center all day without a drop to drink.  I say cut off the water to his house!  Just another sad example of how the Roma are the scapegoats for the problems in the village.


Budapest, 6 August, 2013: The European Roma Rights Centre is calling on the Council of Ozd to immediately reconnect the public water supply in the town. On 3 August 2013, the council disconnected 27 pumps, which provided water to the town. Up to 500 families can no longer easily access safe clean drinking water. A further 62 taps have been severely limited by authorities, with the water pressure is so low that it takes several minutes to fill a 10-litre bottle. Roma and non-Roma are affected by the decision, as many people living in the area are too poor to have running water in their homes.
The Council made the original decision at the end of June, and did not inform the community - only putting the information online. The limitations started two weeks ago, during the height of the Hungarian summer when temperatures can reach uo to 40C (104F). According to media reports, the mayor said that the council could no longer afford the 50,000-EUR annual water bill from all of the pumps in the town, and specifically targeted Roma for ‘misusing’ the water supply. He did not provide any evidence to support this accusation.

No alternatives were provided to the individuals, who rely on the pumps for their supply of water. Local activists and supporters have been providing some drinking water to the community, but there is no water for people to wash themselves or their clothes, and this is not a sustainable solution. Currently there are just two taps which are operating, and both are situated more than 1.5 kilometres from Roma settlements.

“This is not just about the right to water, it is about the health and safety of Roma families who are forced to spend their days going back and forth to fetch water in extremely high temperatures. The Council is fully aware that many families do not have their own supply of running water. This is Europe in 2013 and this should not be happening,” said Dezideriu Gergely, Executive Director, European Roma Rights Centre.
The ERRC is deeply concerned by the Council’s actions, and is in touch with the local authorities to urge them to urgently reconnect the water. Many residents of this area are completely dependent on roadside water pumps to access safe drinking water. Cutting off the water supply at this time of year is dangerous and irresponsible.
Hungarian authorities have a responsibility under international human rights standards to ensure that individuals can access safe and clean drinking water. The ERRC is calling on Hungarian authorities to stop disconnecting the public water supply in areas where the public is dependent on public taps and roadside pumps.  
For further information, contact:
Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre

© ERRC 2013. All rights reserved

Monday, August 12, 2013

Student.GO Why? 5 Reasons We Enthusiastically Participate!

As field personnel with CBF we have participated in the Student.GO program for several years.  This year was no exception.  We had three passionately dedicated young ladies who lived their calling and became the hands and feet of Jesus in Romania this summer.  Thank you Celia, Madison, and Nina.


5 Reasons We Enthusiastically Participate in CBF's Student.Go program:

·     To nurture the passion of young people for mission

·     To further their discernment of their calling

·     To marvel at the energy and creativity they bring to ministry
·     To share the joy of their impact on the lives of Roma children and youth

·    To see God molding their hearts as they become "world citizens"

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Sighting of Travelers

Roma Travelers
One of the misconceptions of Romany (often called Gypsies) in Eastern Europe is that they travel around the countryside.  While there are a few who continue this lifestyle, the largest majority were forced to settle during the communist era.  We have heard rumors of "travelers" in villages of Romania and recently witnessed them passing through the village of Stoborasti.  Imagine all your worldly goods in a wagon that resembles the Conestogas of the American west in the 1800's.  One enterprising Roma wife rigged a line down the side of their wagon and had her laundry hanging from it.  Pots and pans jangled from the sides and little curious faces poked out the end.  An older girl, perhaps the wife, with a baby on her hip was going from door to door begging for money.  We were told that in addition to begging, often the men will offer to sharpen knives or sell twig brooms they have made.  A little dog followed dutifully behind the wagon.  We saw one wagon stopped by a small stream and the women were busy washing clothes while little preschoolers splashed around.  (There is a definite delineation of men's work and women's work in the Roma culture).  It was fascinating to observe this nearly lost lifestyle.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Club is FUN!

What to do on a lazy summer morning in the countryside of Romania? Perhaps this was pondered by many kids during this hot time of the year but for a few days in July the children in Stoborasti and Tufeni had plenty to entertain them. CBF's Student.GO team provided Club activities, similar to Vacation Bible School in the USA, to help the children in the local Baptist church have fun, learn Bible stories, and create some great memories. With interactive Bible stories about Joshua and Jericho, Daniel in the lion's den, Queen Esther, and Jesus feeding the 5,000 the kids learned of God's love and care. These stories were followed up with crafts and snacks. The morning ended with games like balloon squat and hula hoop relay. The favorite game was anything involving water balloons! It was a memorable week.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Our Girl Did It!

Our daughter, Amy Lee Stocks Gallaher, graduated with her Masters in Divinity from Campbell University Divinity School this past weekend.  We were the proud parents - especially when she surprised us with the news that she was graduating with distinction (honors).  Ralph was honored to bring her hood forward during the ceremony.  It was a great moment for all of us.  We also give thanks to the scholarship program CBF offers for young leaders.  Amy Lee, you go girl!  Eight years at Campbell comes to an end and your bright, exciting future begins!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Easter! Paste Felicit!

Ralph and me with the Flowering Cross
Romania follows the Orthodox calendar for Easter. Which means we celebrated our Lord's Resurrection yesterday, May 5.  It felt like we were in a time warp or an altered universe since most of the world celebrated six weeks ago.  No  matter the date, it was a beautiful celebration on a warm, sunny day. 

Like churches around the world, our Romanian church had different services throughout Holy Week.  On Good Friday or Big Friday as it
The Cast
translates here, the youth did a play to tell the story of Jesus.  Two wisemen arrived in Jerusalem 33 years too late.  They had wandered the desert lost on their way to greet Baby Jesus.  The story is their encounters with various people Jesus knew.  They did a great job.  (I helped with the costumes.  Thanks to a donation of old draperies to Project Ruth that we were able to refashion into Biblical dress.)

Easter Sunday morning the usual greeting of "Pace" (peace)  between church goers was changed to "Cristos a inviat!" (Christ has risen) and one responds back "Adevarat a inviat!" (It's true He's risen).  The service was full of poems and beautiful music from the choir and mandolin orchestra.  Church members had been invited to bring a flower to decorate a cross.  The Flowering Cross represents the new life that comes from Christ.  It is a dramatic moment when the doors open and the cross is presented.  This year we also celebrated by taking family pictures.  It was a joyous celebration.  Cristos a inviat!  Adevarat a inviat!

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Get Your Picture on the Cover..."

 There is a famous song about getting your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine.  While it's not the Rolling Stone, we think it's pretty special - the Naomi Center is featured in this month's edition of a ladies craft magazine in Romania.  It's their Easter edition (we follow the Orthodox calendar and will celebrate Easter in Romania on May 5).  The article has colorful pictures and interviews with several of our regular participants.  We're all pleased to see our Center recognized as a great place for women to come and learn a craft.  Those of us who hang out there regularly know it's much more than that with the counseling and support also offered.  Copies of the magazine are available at any newsstand in Romania and the ladies will autograph them for free! :)
Hanging with the Girls in the 'Hood!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

5 Ways to Help Our Naomi Center

 How can you help the ladies at Project Ruth's Naomi Center? 

1. Pray for them as they seek to support their families and be a support to one another.  Pray as they meet on Monday and Tuesday mornings to sew.  Pray for the group that meets on Thursday mornings for Bible study.  Pray for the staff: Dana, Mirella, and Madi to have wisdom and guidance.

2. Provide supplies of colorful cotton material, especially holiday patterns; buttons; hair clips; lace; and other items.

3. Offer a showing of products at your church. Contact us for details of how to do this. 

4. Come to Bucharest and teach a new craft.

5. Drop in at the Missions Marketplace at CBF's General Assembly June 27 & 28 in Greensboro at the Koury Convention Center.  We will have Naomi items for sale!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beauty From Ferenatari

Ferentari is the name of the neighborhood where the Naomi Women's Center is located.  It is a poor area of Bucharest characterized by trash-strewn streets, homeless dogs, a very large Roma (Gypsy) population, and mostly gray, drab buildings.  The Naomi Center strives to empower the women of Ferentari to help themselves and their families by offering counseling and sewing classes.  The classes are more than merely instruction.  The core group of women have learned to support and care for one another as they run their machines, cut their material, and sew on buttons. 

This past Sunday we displayed the items made by the Naomi ladies for sale at Providence Baptist Church.  There was a general excitement as the members looked over the handmade flower brooches, hair bows, flower vases, and cosmetic bags.  One of the customers asked, "Can something so beautiful come out of Ferentari?"  Yes, it can and it wasn't even on display.  Something beautiful happens every week as the Naomi ladies gather to not just sew but to support one another and improve their lives and with that, those of their families.  Beauty from Ferentari...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Who Knew Tom Made Boots? Not Me!

I confess I don't keep up with all the fads in the USA but I do know about Tom's Shoes.  When you purchase a pair, Tom donates a pair to a child in need.  We've welcomed the gift of those shoes at the Ruth School.  I didn't know they did boots!  Not just any boot but a fleece-lined, rubber soled, durable-looking boot.  This week the Ruth School was privileged to receive Tom's Boots through World Vision for our younger students and the timing was perfect!  We had already planned a sweatshirt distribution because in Romania we can easily have cold weather through March.
On Friday the weather was cold with heavy snow.  A perfect day to get a new warm sweatshirt and waterproof boots.  Many of the students put their boots on and happily wore them down the street.  And our girl students were gifted with (spoken in a whisper) new underwear.  It is not uncommon for a staff person to request socks or underwear for a student so we try to keep a supply.  These two items you can put into a child's backpack and preserve their dignity in front of their school mates.  On this day we took the girls over to a section of the lunch room and let them choose.  They giggled and giggled as they looked over the
undies in pink, purple, and white with bows and flowers.  We are grateful for all who support Project Ruth and give generously to provide for the students.  Perhaps you would consider sponsoring a student, contributing to our (say in a whisper) underwear/sock fund, or helping us fulfill the dream of a playground for our younger students.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Little Mario!

I am so blessed!  The Ruth School has a scholarship program to help defray the costs of a student attending.  It's not just the teaching.  We also offer hot meals, classroom supplies, backpacks for 1st & 5th grades, clothes, shoes, health services, and other things.  For only $30 a month anyone can help the Ruth School to be a beacon in an extremely poor, depressed neighborhood of Bucharest.  OK, enough of the commercial.  You can see how much Ralph and I believe in the mission of Project Ruth!  As the old saying goes we "put our money where our mouth is" and have sponsored a student. 
His name is Mario, he's in the 2nd grade, and this is his Christmas picture.  Oh, Mario doesn't know I'm his sponsor.  However, I know he's my student.  I get to see him in the lunchroom and say, "Hey Mario, how's it going?" and hear his sweet response.  I get to see him in the classroom bent over his schoolwork or on the soccer court kicking the ball.  I get to give him a hug or a high five as I do with many of the little ones.  I feel blessed to see nearly everyday the difference the Ruth School Scholarship program is making in the lives of students.
How about you?  Want to make a difference? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Learning about Mark & Genesis" Gypsy Smith in January

"Evangelia, evangelia..."  A favorite song of the Gypsy Smith students means "Good news, good news."  This week one could hear the words of the song being sung with gusto from the library of the Ruth School.  24 men from around Romania, leaders in Romany churches, were gathered for a week of studying the books of Mark and Genesis.  During their breaks a guitar would appear and soon the men would be singing "the good news brings power, power..."
Tyler Tankerseley, 2nd Baptist Church, Liberty, MO, and Tiger Pennington, FBC, North Kansas City, MO led the men through the daily sessions with scripture reading and thought provoking questions.  Harold Phillips, CBF Heartland's (formerly CBF Missouri) also helped out by filling in whatever gaps were needed. Most days this included washing over 200 bowls in the Ruth School lunchroom!

Despite the language differences, the conversations and fellowship continued around the lunch tables as the Roma and American men challenged each other in their Christian walk.
The temperatures outside were frigid but the camaraderie inside was warm and inviting.  Thank you CBF Heartland for helping with the Gypsy Smith School.
Spreading the Good News...