Friday, March 26, 2010


How often do you put out the trash? In our town, trash is picked up once a week--one week the green container which will be composted & the other week the gray container which will be burned to generate electricity. The trash containers have a chip in them, and we are charged for each time the container is emptied. This to encourage recycling rather than tossing trash. Consequently, Keith and many others in our neighborhood engage in the ritual trash dance. This involves climbing up on something high enough to allow one to stomp down the trash and get more in the container. Very Dutch to want to save the additional fee. Due to Keith's dancing, plus our recycling and generally simple lifestyle, we manage to only set the trash out every six weeks or so. The Romany village of Vulcanesti does not have the luxury of household garbage pick up. They throw their trash in the woods across the road from the church. The pastor would like to change this . . . with or without dancing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ladies' Day #5 - 'Berencs

"Thank you God that you love us as women as much as you love men. Thank you that for you we are not nothing and you do not look at us as people without value..." This was a portion of the prayer of one of our ladies today. A woman who has had a difficult life having lost all eight of her children. She told us of being contently married for 25 years and a Believer for five. Her face told us she carried a heavy burden - she looked much older than her 48 years and she rarely smiled. However, it's hard not to smile and laugh once the cake icing is handed out. One of the team members compared it to giving play dough to preschoolers. It's therapeutic to stir the color in to the icing, fill the bag and then create something unique. It didn't take long before our new friend was smiling and seemed to relax a bit.

The 'Berencs church room is small and we squeezed in 17 women along with our 8 team members. We moved church benches around for a make shift dining area and raided the owners home for a few extra chairs. The weather cooperated too so we could have the door open to allow the fresh air in. (After a week of breathing wood smoke we were ready!)

Thank you for praying for this week of Ladies' Days. Our goals were to tell of God's love for all, encourage the women in their faith, and give them an opportunity to have fun without the worries of their normal day. Our prayers were answered as we saw this happen each day. It was apparent as the ladies left at the end of the days that they had enjoyed themselves. Join us in giving thanks to God for a fantastic week!

And thank you Women's Missionary Union of Virginia - women all around Virginia - for supporting this project.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ladies' Day #4 - Kekcse

As we loaded the van this morning we were all curious and wondering out loud how the day would go. The Roma church in Kekcse had split a few weeks ago and most of the women had left to attend the new church start. We weren't sure if they would come to a function being held in the building of the church they were no longer a part of. We had planned on and hoped for 20 women. "Oh ye of little faith..." We eventually had 39!

As Becky McKinney began her message to the women on God's forgiveness the rest of us were praying for open hearts and ears. We were asking God to heal the conflict and strife between the groups. The ladies were heart felt in their prayers asking God to bless and forgive them. One lady prayed "I've waited a long time to have a special day like this."

During the necklace making I shared about the Beads for Life that are made by Ugandan women to support their families. The Roma women clapped and shouted "Amen" as I explained we were helping women in Africa. They loved the idea.

Cake decorating, as on the other days, was a huge hit with lots of laughter. The WMU VA team was amused as they watched the Roma women lick their icing spatulas and icing tips - often just squirting the icing directly into their mouths. Another comical moment was watching Nicole Todd teaching the decorating from the pulpit. The room was crowded and the brick pulpit was immovable - it was the best place. We wanted to call her "Sister Martha Stewart".

The most poignant moment of the day came when a great grandmother introduced herself and 3 generations of women in her family. The great grandmother was 47 years old; the grandmother 32 years old, the mother, 16; and her baby was 1.

Again we felt God blessed us by letting us play a role in bringing bits of joy and fun to the lives of the Roma women. We pray they take to heart God's message of love and forgiveness. Please pray for our last Ladies' Day tomorrow in Berencs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ladies' Day #3 - Tuzser

Wow! What a day! Tuzser was the largest of the churches where we planned to hold the ladies' day celebrations. It lived up to our expectations. This celebration time was chaotic, crazy and fun-filled. The church room quickly filled with women eager to see just what this American group was all about. We had requested the ladies not bring children but of course knew we would have a few nursing mothers. As soon as word "telegraphed" around the village that it was OK to bring small children the numbers grew quickly.

Becky McKinney's message of God's love for women and the sacrifice Jesus made was even more important since nearly half of the 60 women present were not believers. The ladies who were church members were a bit embarrassed by the non-members' behavior of being loud and grabbing for supplies. We explained there was no need to worry. We were happy the women were hearing the Good News and hoped seeds were planted.

So as the dust cleared and we looked around the room at the bits of paper scattered, the smeared icing, turned over cups, napkins stuck inbetween pew boards we felt the day had been a success. We had 60 women in the morning and 51 in the afternoon. They heard the message of encouragement through God's love and forgiveness and they had a time away from their families - if only briefly.

Please pray continue to pray. We have two days left and we want as many women as possible to hear the message and enjoy "their" day.

Problems in Slovakia

Slovakia plans to remove Romani children from their families 
The Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today (March 9) that the government proposes a system, in which Romani children will be taken from settlements and be placed in boarding schools.
“The idea that Romani children have to be removed from their families and put into boarding schools, when they could be educated in normal schools near their homes, is clearly against the best interests of the child. Uprooting from their surroundings and removing them from their families, is an attack on their identity,” said Halya Gowan, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director of Amnesty International.
The fact that some Romani families living in settlements – as other families in Slovakia – experience challenges to supporting the education of children because of poverty, language barriers and other factors, highlights the need for government to provide support and assistance to all to overcome such barriers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ladies' Day #2 - Ilk

We awoke this moring to the sounds of snow shovels. Yes, snow! This did not dampen our spirits or the women of the Roma Baptist Church in Ilk. We arrived in Ilk a little unsure of what to expect. News had reached us the church building (a falling down old house) had been sold and we would meet in a church member's home. The church room was actually a poorly walled-in porch. The roof did not meet the wall on one side causing a bitter cold draft for those sitting there. This draft also caused the room to fill with smoke from the wood stove so we had to open the door which filled the room with cold air. What a cycle! It did not alter our plans or the air of excitement in the room.

Tibor the pastor led our praise time. As soon as he finished we said, "Thanks, now you gotta go!" The ladies laughed at the thought of kicking the pastor out of the church. He was good natured and said he knew when he was not wanted.

Today was similar to yesterday with our ice-breaker, drawings for little gifts, necklace making, and cake decorating. Becky McKinney once again touched the hearts of the women as she spoke to them of God's love and forgiveness.

Again we heard lots of laughter, good natured teasing, and small talk. One lady commented she had never experienced anything like this before. Another said for her the best thing was no cooking or cleaning or thinking about what to feed her family. A third said she had not had so much fun in a very long time.

We handed out bright pink bags and reminded the ladies their sisters in Christ in America were praying for them. The bags carried on their arms were bright spots along the muddy road as they made their way with cakes in hand to their homes. What a day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's Celebrate - Ladies Day #1 - Szatmarcserke

"We're acting like the children." "This is fun" "I don't have to cook? or do the dishes?" These were just a few of the phrases heard today by the team of the Women's Missionary Union of Virginia in the little Roma (Gypsy) Baptist Church in the village of Szatmarcserke. The day began with a praise time led by three of the local Roma women. Becky McKinney, past president of the WMU VA spoke giving a message on celebrating life and that we as women are uniquely made by God. The necklace making that followed was fun and we remarked that our beauty comes from the inside - having hearts that love the Lord - but it is nice to have something beautiful to wear too! For Becky's second message she shared from her own experience and reminded the ladies God gave his son for us. She reminded them that God forgives and loves us no matter what. Then came the highlight of the day - learning to decorate cakes. As the afternoon progressed giggles broke out, good natured teasing was heard about one's decorating skills, and you could see the women relax. They were having a great time! After the group picture they gathered up their cakes and supplies, greeted each other with "God Bless You" and headed out to show off their handiwork with smiles and singing.

The goal of the day was to offer encouragement to a group of women for whom life is hard and to allow them a time of fellowship and fun. Hearing the sound of the laughter as they made their way down the street back to their families and responsibilities, we knew God had blessed us all and the day was a success.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Women's Day in Moldova

Members of Bethlehem Baptist Church surprised the women of the Romany village of Vulcanesti. The pastor wrote: "Sunday we had a church service and went Monday with brothers from the village church and I gave flowers to women. Many women have testified that no one (ever) did something for them (before). It was a beautiful work, which we hear."

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated around the world on March 8th. It is a day set aside for women to be recognized for their economic, political and social contributions to the world. Across Europe and especially in Hungary, men will present the ladies in their lives small tokens of appreciation. This is usually in the form of flowers, chocolate, or perhaps a meal in restaurant.

Roma women are the backbones of their families. They work hard to keep their households clean and safe, to provide food for their husbands and children, and the great many other tasks we as women do on a daily basis. Roma women often live in poor conditions with inadequate housing and few affordable good nutritional choices. Life takes its toil as they work without running water, few modern appliances and little electricity.

Pray for the Roma women. Ask that today be the day they understand joy that comes from knowing Christ. Ask that today be an easy day of tasks. Pray that today they feel loved and appreciated by their families.

Pray for the series of Ladies' Days being held March 15-19 in the Roma churches in northeast Hungary. Pray the ladies will embrace the Bible study theme of "Celebrating God Loves Us As Women." Pray for the team of 4 ladies from the Women's Missionary Union of Virginia (WMU VA) coming to lead the study and teach cake decorating. Pray each day will be a day of fun and relaxation for the women of the Roma churches.