Saturday, May 4, 2024

Communion on the Road

 Keith and I recently drove to two meetings, through nine countries, in nineteen days (you'll have to ask him how many kilometers that was in total). 

We officially celebrated communion three times:  first at the Anglican church in Naples on Easter Sunday, 

then with our CBF Europe Team on the last day of our team meeting. 

One team member has such a strong reaction to gluten that her bread could not even be on the same serving plate as the rest of the bread.

The Roma Network Conference also closed with communion.

If you look very closely, you can see Keith, towards the back of the group photo.

And here is Keith again. (Photo courtesy of the Roma Networks website).

We shared communion of a different sort at our last worship service on the road, this time with Tina Boyles Bailey who recently moved from CBF's Asia Team to join us all in Europe. Here she is communing with the pastor of the International  Church in Graz, Austria. 

(Worship services in English & Farsi; delicious cake baked by German church member.) 

Glad to have gone. Glad to be back home, communing with friends, family, and church community here in the Netherlands.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Seeing Orange


Yesterday was the birthday of King Willem Alexander.

It's a fun holiday here in the Netherlands with special activities for the children and adults alike.

One friend claimed that a couple of years ago he was in Arnhem for the celebration and the mass of people carried him along for two blocks without his feet ever touching the pavement.*

Many people, like our neighbor, hung out the Dutch flag.

If you look carefully, you'll see something interesting on the end of the flagpole.

It's an orange tip, specifically put there because the Dutch royal family is the House of Orange-Nassau. 

If you watch the summer Olympics, you'll see Dutch fans wearing a lot of orange, rather than red-white-and-blue. 

I saw a lot of orange on the streets yesterday, too. Orange shirts, orange hats, orange jackets. 

The cashier in the grocery store even wore an orange lei. 

It's a bit of fun, a way of saying, "I belong to this place and these 'orange' people." 

We are citizens of a Kingdom, too, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. 

Our King doesn't have a particular color. But He did say that others would know that we belonged to Him--and to each other--by our love.

M. VanRheenen

*This friend was not know for letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

FUNdament = Fun

Mom playing "Blindfold Copy"
 Bethelehem Baptist Church in the Nisporeni region of Moldova has started a parent-child club. Sometimes as many as 19 children come. Sometimes as few as one additional adult. This past week, there was one adult per child - moms, older sisters, and even some dads. 

"The children were connected with the adults," leader Olesea Ciochina said. "It was amazing. They connected every second. They did everything together. They decided the colors together. They decided what to do and how to do it." 

She added, "At the end (of the meeting) the fathers of the children started coming in," Olesea added. "They helped to finish the handwork." The handwork for this lesson was particularly involved, so it was a good thing they did.

Parents play an important role throughout the meetings. Usari Romani is spoken in most homes, and the youngest children have not yet learned Romanian (the national language) or Russian (a common second language). The Bible story is told in Romanian. One parent translates it into Usari to make sure all the children understand it.

"I saw how interested the adults were in the lessons. They also had questions to understand the subject. Afterwards they explained to the children in their language in some details." 

The group also played several Davar: Bridging to Literacy games. One, based on Letter Game B 8 (Letters on a Flag) involved choosing three letters from the alphabet and matching the chosen letter with a word that began with that letter. Afterwards, each mom (or big sister) spontaneously had their children repeat the letters that they had been learning. 

Thursday, March 14, 2024

These three stories are examples of shell books (quality is better in original). 

The illustrations and page set up are the “shell.” 

The shell is designed so that the text can easily be changed to another language. (Again, the quality of the images and the text is better in the original.)

It is simply a matter of “cut-and-paste” to put in Spanish or Slovak or Ukrainian rather than English.

These three books do not require any additional translation. 

The captions come straight from a printed Bible. 

This way we do not need to know the language ourselves to put in the proper text.

We have already used these coloring books in several different languages. 

The story of Dorcas has been printed in Dutch, English, and Sinti Romani. 

The parables of Jesus have been used in Romanian, English, Russian, and Ursari Romani. 

The pages would have to be rearranged to print them in languages that are written right-to-left like Farsi or Hebrew. But it would be possible.

If you are interested in having the “shell” for any of these stories, feel free to contact us. We put these together ourselves. And if you are interested, we can connect you with even more shell Bible stories and coloring booklets.

Happy reading—and coloring!

Mary  & Keith 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Action re the Book of Acts

Do you remember Dean Jones, the star of Disney films like The Love Bug? After he became a Christian, he helped found The Visual Bible, a company which made Scripture films like The Book of Acts. You can see AND hear the original here.

You can also see and hear it in nine different languages here, including Mandarin Chinese, French, Latin American Spanish, Russian, and two versions of Arabic. The Jesus Film Project now owns the rights to dub this video into different languages.

Before Cru (the Jesus Film people) had the rights, Keith also dubbed it into Sinti Romani. It is possible that others also dubbed it into other languages which are floating out there somewhere on the Internet. If you find one, let us know. 

Since the film follows the Scripture text, some people have used the video in Bible studies. They watch a portion instead of or in addition to reading the text. If you experiment with this or know someone who has, let us know about that, too.

Mary & Keith

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Roma at Work

 I love baskets. So I my ears really perked up when our friend Zoltan told me about this Roma basket-maker in Romania. The man is a Christian. During the growing season he, like many other Roma, does  agricultural work. Some people go to Germany to pick soft fruits (strawberries, raspberries, etc.). Others go to Spain to pick garlic, among other things. 

I do not know what this man does then. But during the other months, he makes baskets. One of Zoltan's Roma friends helps sell the baskets. Zoltan had bought a big, sturdy one for harvesting grapes.

In America, baskets for such farm work were often made from split hardwood like white oak. Here in Europe, the weaving material of choice is more likely to be willow. Polled willows were grown specifically for this sort of purpose. These trees, often ancient, are still seen along fence rows today. 

Keith and I will be at the same Roma Networks Meeting as Zoltan in April. Perhaps Zoltan can buy and bring one of these baskets for me. Which would you choose:  an oval one with a handle or a big one for yardwork? 

Whatever you are doing, let your hearts be in your work, as a thing done for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23, Weymouth New Testament

Friday, February 2, 2024

Choosing a Standard

On a weekend visit to a province north of where we live, we stopped in a drugstore to pick up a few things we'd forgotten. We understood the local teenage-clerk behind the counter perfectly well--when she spoke to us. We didn't understand anything she said when she turned to chat with a friend in the store. What was the difference? She spoke standard Dutch to us and the local dialect with her friend. But who decided, way back when, which of the many local Dutch dialects would become the standard? Why the people in the nation's capital, over there on the west coast. (Even our image of typical Dutch costumes comes from the west--photo from 1993 OC Tulip Time.)

Typically those in power in a nation choose the standard. But what if your language isn't centered in one particular nation-state? What if, for instance, you are Romany? After all, it can be really handy to have a standard from speaking to spelling. I don't try to write down things the way my mother pronounced them (upper Midwest accent) and Keith doesn't try to write things down the way his mother pronounced them (TEXAN). No, we have a standard. It's imperfect (right?), but it's standard.*

The International Romani Union realized this. In 1990, they approved an international Romani alphabet to help unite Romani** around the world. 

The Romani Bible Translation Committee also decided to go for a translation into Standard Romani. You can read more about it or read more in that Standard on their website.

You can hear AND read that language in the recently completed Gospel of John

And you can pray for the translators, voices, technicians who are making this Standard Romani version of the Gospel available. (Feel free to pray in any version of any language you choose!)

*Our daughter spent a couple of months in second grade at a school in North Carolina. On a spelling test, she wrote down exactly what she heard her teacher say:  "fav." The word was "5". 

**Romani can refer to the language or to the group of people.