Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Word . . . Moved into the Neighborhood

Immanuel--God with us—is mirrored in the traditional Spanish manger scenes. The baby Jesus is born in Spanish mangers and other traditional Spanish buildings. He is surrounded by Spanish farm animals: sheep, goats, but also pigs and chickens.

Keith is in Spain recording the Word, this time in Euskara. Wherever your neighborhood is and whatever language is spoken there, may you also hear and see Immanuel. He's moved into the neighborhood.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Wish List

I had a startling Skype conversation this week. An educator in the Netherlands was discussing the Parent-Child Program with Coco, an outreach worker in Romania. The Romany village where Coco works is particularly poor. 
"Would the mothers like Christmas decorations for their houses?" the Dutch woman asked, thinking about some craft activity to suggest. 
"They would like food," the Romanian field worker replied. 
What would you like for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Deck . . . the House?

Have you started to deck your halls--or your house? Four guys in Moldova just finished decking a house with a new dak (roof, in Dutch).

The story starts with Maria. She is a widow on a very small pension with a very large household of dependents (grandchilden, daughter, daughter's children . . .). In this photo she's standing in front of a place she was housesitting. She and her family were glad to be there that winter (2015) because their own house leaks. Like a sieve.

The story continues when a woman
from the Netherlands visited the Romany village where Maria lives.  When she saw Maria's roof,
 she asked Pastor Petru Ciochina what it would cost
to fix it. Then she went back home to the Netherlands
and asked some friends to help fix the roof.

They were not the only ones helping to fix the roof. Pastor Petru (here up on top of Maria's house) got three other guys from church to work with him. Together, they put the new roof up.

Here's one of those guys in front of the finished project:  a roof which does not leak! Maria and her whole family are very happy!

The new roof is even green.
Maria's house is already
decked out for Christmas!

But wait, this story did not start with Maria. This story starts . . . with Christmas. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sinterklaas and Spain

 We're celebrating Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas Day) here in the Netherlands. Children set out their shoes (rather than their stockings) with carrots for St. Nicholas's horse (rather than cookies for Santa Claus).

Sint Nikolaas, a proper bishop with mitre, robe, and bishop's crook, doesn't go hopping down chimneys. His fun-loving servant Piet/Pete does that for him, though sometimes the good saint himself politely rings the doorbell. After the festivities are over, he and Piet return to Spain (not the North Pole) by steamboat (not by flying sleigh), taking the naughty children with them.

Keith happens to be going to Spain himself later this week. No, it's  not because he's been naughty. He will begin recording the New Testament in Basque or Euskara.
Well, why is Sinterklaas so much more popular here than the fat guy with the elves? Is it because he comes to the waterlogged, canal-crossed Netherlands on a boat, speaking Dutch and acting Dutch? The legend of a kindhearted Christian in 4th-century Turkey has been transported into something Dutch children can readily relate to.
God came in a way all of us could readily relate to--as a human baby. Keith wants everyone to understand what that baby said and did when He grew to an adult. And we understand that best when we hear it in the language closest to our hearts.