Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dubbing Ruth Day 2

Keith and Shane knew that they would not have as many dubbing sessions as they did yesterday. In all, there were four sessions today. The first beginning at 11:00 AM in Spišské Podhradie and ending at 11:00 PM in Košice.

After dubbing the Narrator part for the Roma version, Shane and Keith returned to Košice for an afternoon appointment with another Slovak speaker. Fortunately, a guy Shane knew from several years ago was willing to dub one of the smaller parts, leaving only the Slovak Narrator and Boaz parts undubbed.

That's when the kindest of friends came to the rescue. Shane had already arranged for the Slovak Narrator, which will be dubbed on a future visit by Keith. When the Bán family was told that the project still lacked one Slovak voice, they offered to help as soon as they got home from an evening program at church. After arriving back at the Bán's home later, Keith set up his equipment and was able to get the part of Boaz dubbed into Slovak!

In all, twelve parts were recorded on this trip - a full one-third of what is needed to complete the project. Pray for Keith as he travels home to Holland for several days and then as he travels to the Czech Republic to record the Czech voices and more Roma voices. Pray for Shane as he contacts Believers in the Czech Republic who will serve as actors. And praise the Lord for a wonderful experience of working together!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dubbing Ruth Day 1

Over a year ago, Keith Holmes and Shane began discussing the possibility of Keith coming to Slovakia and/or the Czech Republic to work on a media project together. They decided to go with the Testament: The Bible in Animation version of the story of Ruth. Keith had worked with the video before and suggested that it would be a great first project together. After contacting the Slovak Bible Society to be the local partner in this project, it was time to work on the translations.

They decided to use the standardized Roma dialect for Slovakia instead of a regional dialect, feeling there are more pros to using this dialect than there are cons. In addition to Roma language, they decided to include Slovak and Czech languages along with subtitles for each language. This will make the video not only a ministry tool for use in churches, it could also be useful in educational settings.

After getting the script translated into the three different languages, Shane began recuiting an ecumenical group of Believers who were willing to lend their voices to this project. Roma from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Slovaks, and Czechs are all working together to complete this exciting project.

Shane went to Krakow, Poland to pick up Keith yesterday and today they spent all afternoon dubbing the Slovak language version of the video! It was a GREAT beginning. In total, eight of the twelve Slovak parts were recorded today. They will record another two or three tomorrow. They will also travel an hour north-west of Košice to record the narrator for the Roma language version.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gandhi Choir on Tour

If a picture is worth a thousand words, we must have at least a million here! These are pictures of the recent Choir Tour of the Gandhi Roma High School in Pecs, Hungary. The choir is led by CBF field personnel, Glen Adkins with his wife, Clista, serving as his assistant. After looking at the pictures, read the next four posts below this one for the "rest of the story" in Clista's own words. It was a wonderful experience for all involved in so many ways. Thank you for praying and supporting this ministry. (To read all the blog entries you may have to hit "older posts" at the bottom of the page.)

First Leg - Northeast Hungary

It was an interesting time to take a busload of Roma (Gypsy) students and teachers across Hungary and Slovakia. Although we were a bit nervous, given the current climate and recent Roma killings in NE Hungary, we took off in early August with 29 choir members and 9 adults, in a bus provided by many of you, to make the trek across the country on the first leg of the trip. We went to five Roma villages near the Ukraine border; those five communities may never be the same! I don’t know who was more fascinated and surprised—the Gandhi students seeing other Roma who lived in the villages, or the resident Romani welcoming High School students who were actually Gypsies! Evidently, both groups didn’t know that the others really existed. It was like an old homecoming for both groups. The choir members were “heroes” to the villagers, and the students just loved the attention from children and adults, alike.

Thanks to Ralph Stocks, Roma Baptist House-churches were our hosts and invited people and neighbors from their communities. You can see from the pictures that most of the performances were outside in dirt yards and that people gathered inside and outside the fences and against the walls. The Gandhi girls and guys looked wonderful in their traditional or black clothing. The program was a choir performance with some Christian testimony and a little extra Gandhi recruitment thrown into the mix.

The choir was wonderful. Joshua, Sanyi, Szabi, Istvan, and Peti played their instruments like pros. Andi, Andi (a second one), Laura, Peter, Nelli, and Marian all sang outstanding solos even when they were competing against village church bells, roving Gypsy children and adults, and sweltering heat. Nelli and Marian stepped in at the last minute when Klaudia, our original soloist, was robbed the night before the trip and couldn’t accompany us because she had no official “papers”. They went right up to the microphone and sang as if they’d been doing it for months! Trey Harper (Truett Divinity School) also sang one of Klaudia’s solos, so the choir and the audiences had a treat in hearing Trey. At every performance, these girls and guys were just stupendous. People enjoyed the music so much that they clapped, sang along, and danced—even the really old people!

In addition to the captivating music, Ricsi (rising 12th grader) and Szilvi (rising 11th grader) agreed to share their testimonies as believers at each performance. What a gift!! We were amazed how readily they agreed when Glen asked them. To give their testimonies in front of their many non-believing peers was truly courageous for both Ricsi and Szilvi. Their testimonies were brief, strong, and beautiful. I was so proud of them that I almost yelled “Bravo” every time! In addition, Laci (university student, Gandhi graduate/teacher, and translator) spoke of his years at Gandhi and university, and Marika (Roma teacher at Gandhi) spoke about the Gandhi School and the possibilities for Roma children from the NE. Since the performances were packed with parents, teens, and children, perhaps a few of those will find their way to Gandhi somewhere down the road.
After each performance, the church folks wanted to respond, so they sang a few numbers for the choir and served refreshments to all of us. The Gandhi students were wonderful. They visited with people--young and old, gave autographs on programs, held babies, took pictures, recruited young Roma for the school, and ate all of the offered food! After last year’s trip, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they “rose to the occasion” in such remarkable style!

Second Leg - Slovakia

Early on Monday morning, we loaded up the bus and headed out the back roads of Hungary to Slovakia. Shane and Dianne McNary (CBF Field Personnel to Roma in Slovakia) made arrangements for their delightful friend, Jaroslav, to meet us in Kosice, to translate for us, and to guide us around Kosice and Jasov so that the Gandhi Choir could sightsee and sing.

The Gandhi students were charmed by the city of Kosice, interested in the walking tour of the old city, and fascinated by the Gypsy beggar children who followed us down the street. Although they tried in Hungarian and two dialects of Romani, the students couldn’t ask about these Roma because no one could speak Slovakian! The fascination lasted until the little boys started grabbing at the female students. At that point, I had to step in and take charge. It was an interesting experience.

After lunch and shopping, we traveled to the village of Jasov to sing in a nice Roma school (K-12). The Gandhi students scattered, trying to see everything about this different Roma school before they changed into performance clothes. As they gathered in the dining room of the school for the performance, they wondered why the crowd was so small. The Roma leader (Oto—friend of the McNarys) explained that locals were afraid to venture out into public venues because of anti-Roma incidents in the area. Determined to continue, the choir performed very well. Jaro was a wonderful translator and the small audience responded enthusiastically to the music, so we had a nice afternoon. Then, we were all rewarded with a lovely Slovakian dinner hosted by Oto.

After another warning from Oto about driving with a bus of Roma teens through the Slovakian countryside, we headed directly back into Hungary. I know that I felt a profound sense of relief when we pulled up to the Sarokhaz Pension on the outskirts of Budapest.

Third Leg - Budapest

Tuesday morning, we headed into Budapest to see Hero’s Square, the Citadella, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and West End Mall (always a mall!) Many of the students had never toured Budapest, so this was pretty exciting for the whole group, as you can see from the pictures. However, the highlight of the trip was the boat trip down the Danube. Having never been on boats, lots of the students were pretty reluctant to cross the gangway, but their resistance lasted only until they actually stepped foot onboard. Then they were all smiles. The hour-long sightseeing trip, accompanied by colas and orange-juice punch in cocktail glasses (with
garnishes, no less) served by nice young women, was a roaring success. I don’t know when I have seen young people have more fun and feel more luxurious than those young people on that Legenda Boat for one hour!

After all that luxury, we had to scurry off the boat and race through a harried Burger King meal so that we could climb ten flights of stairs in an ancient graffiti-decorated building to sing the final performance in a dark roof-top club. What seemed like a disaster-waiting-to-happen at 7:00p.m. turned into a totally satisfying performance and perfect ending to the six-day tour. The young adults in the audience loved the music and applauded
enthusiastically at every strategic point. The choir and musicians left feeling justifiably proud of themselves.


There is nothing like loving Roma students. They are effusive and sullen, jubilant and morose, delighted and furious, . . . They are emotional and responsive, and they relate completely. Therefore, when they say “thank you,” they put their hearts into their thanks! So as we hugged each one and said good-bye, we were overwhelmed by their affection and their gratitude. They left Pécs feeling thankful for you. In fact, we felt guilty accepting all of the thanks when many of you are the reason that this trip happened. In ways they have never communicated before, every student made a special effort to say thank you . . . to us and to you.

You were evident all week. If you had the time to go through the pictures, you would see every mission team t-shirt (FBC Huntsville, Campbell Univ. English camp, Northminster Baptist English camp, FBC Greenville, FBC Augusta) — more than once. You would see our chaperone Eszter (Gandhi graduate and Gandhi Social Worker, now) wearing her “Valássz” necklace every day. So thank you. Thank you for your prayers, your gifts, your money, your encouragement, your interest, your enthusiasm, and your time. Without you, this trip would have been only a dream. For many of these students, it was a life-changing and life-affirming experience. A low-budget choir trip around NE Hungary and into Slovakia may seem inconsequential to modern Americans, like a trip around northern South Carolina and into North Carolina. However, it was a priceless opportunity for these students. You gave them a physical, spiritual, and emotional gift that they will remember and talk about for the rest of their lives. They loved it. They have the stories and pictures to prove it! So, thank you!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Credit Crisis--A Moldovan Response

What's a good response to the credit crisis? Move to find work? Well, that's what a lot of the Romany in Vulcanesti, Moldova did. Pastor Petru Ciochina wrote, "Because of the crisis that persists in the country, majority of members were forced to go abroad in Russia and other countries."
Result? "Their departure had to raise discouragement other members."
Response? "Therefore we chose to strengthen fellowship among members. Putting me task to encourage like that Acts 2 says '. . . they devoted themselves to fellowship . . . they were together in one place . . . and taking food (together).'
They meet together one evening a week in different homes. They read the Bible, study the theme "importance of attitude in our lives," share food, and sing.
Some suggest that the credit crisis is the symptom of a moral and spiritual crisis. If so, then perhaps this spiritual, morale, and material response is one of the best?