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christmas celebration!

Joyful carols, beautifully wrapped gifts and warm feet were three of the main events of the Ruth School’s celebration this year. Over the past several weeks, the students of the Ruth School have been practicing Christmas carols in preparation for singing them for their parents and friends during the annual Christmas program. This year there were over seventy parents in attendance. After singing their carols and sharing the Christmas story, the students scurried back to their classrooms to discover what was in their Christmas parcels. Again this year, Project Ruth is very thankful for the supporters in Germany who send a personalized parcel to each child. In addition to candies, toys, gloves and other various Christmas treats, the students received one more surprise. Each student received a new pair of winter shoes along with new socks. This invaluable gift of warm, dry feet for the winter was made possible by friends from Germany and Princeton, Kentucky. The students of the Ruth School may not have many gifts on Christmas morning but the excitement from the celebration today will last through-out the Christmas season.  Thank you to all who helped make this event possible.

Merry Christmas from Ruth School & Project Ruth!

 

Christology and Characters of the Old Testament
The most recent session of GSS (Gypsy Smith School) was held Nov. 21-25, 2012 and welcomed 25 students and two teachers from Holland.  Hans Riphagen taught on Christology and Marco de Vos instructed the students on Important Characters of the Old Testament.  This was the second pair of professors to join us from Holland and we are grateful for their participation in GSS.  We were pleased to celebrate the graduation of one student, Loredan Plaicu, who completed 16 courses.  There are four other students who we anticipate will graduate at the next session in January.

A new component of our program is the Tuesday night worship service in which the students take leadership roles.  One brother will preach, at least two brothers will give personal testimonies and various groups of students will lead in music and singing representing their home churches.  Our November session was the second occasion of such a worship service and was very well received by the students and teachers.  It gives them personal opportunity to lead and to receive a blessing from their peers.  We hope that the rapport that is built among the students will enable them to minister together before and after graduation from GSS.
Burlington Baptist Church visit
In late October, a team of twelve youth and five chaperones from Burlington Baptist Church in Ipswich, England came to serve at Project Ruth for a week. This group enthusiastically led a vacation Bible club each morning for the first-fourth graders who had the week off from classes. During this club, the team taught Bible lessons through engaging dramas and skits. Each day the students who attended the club made a craft to help them remember the lessons they had learned.  On Friday, the team hosted the Ruth School’s first ever movie day and showed a fun, children’s film as a reward for good behavior at the club all week. Aside from the morning clubs, the team broke into smaller groups and lead sports/craft classes for the older students through-out the school day. Furthermore, they were actively involved in the weekly chapel service by sharing the story of Noah and his sons through a dramatization. One afternoon, the team held an afterschool club for about twenty-five children in the Roma church in the nearby village of Glina.
The love of Christ was shown through hugs, smiles and quality time with the children. The team was full of energy and great ideas, and all of their efforts significantly benefited the children!
Boulevard Baptist visits Project Ruth
On September 24, 2011 a team of six from Boulevard Baptist Church in Anderson, SC arrived for a busy and wonderful week at Project Ruth. Many activities were accomplished through their hard work, planning, and energy. The first Mother’s Club meeting of the year was held with the team’s help. The school nurse came and spoke about breast cancer awareness, and afterwards snacks and a fun craft project followed. The craft of decorating picture frames was a huge success. Every mother was able to have her picture taken and printed, as well as have lots of decorations for the picture frames. A very talented member of the team led some eager students in the first sewing club of the school year. The finished product was a wonderful winter scarf.

Field trips to the zoo with the Obed Day Center and to Targoviste with the 1st-3rd graders were a really great way to show the students how learning can be fun. Students also had a chance to see other parts of Bucharest and the country, since many of them rarely leave the neighborhood.

The team provided a wonderful rendition of the story of Ruth for the first chapel of the year, which was also the first chapel to be held in the history of the Ruth School! Just as Ruth was welcomed in a foreign land, everyone is welcomed at the Ruth School regardless of where they came from. An open house for students and parents was held at the end of the week, where the students had the chance to showcase their recorder-playing skills which they had learned throughout the week.
Back to School
On September 12th, the Ruth School was once again full of activity as the new school year began. The students and some of their parents began gathering outside of the school as early as 7:30 anxiously waiting to be reunited with classmates after the summer and meet their new teachers. Before the students were dismissed to their classrooms, the entire school gathered on the soccer field for a beginning of the year celebration. The outgoing headmaster Victoria addressed the students and encouraged them as they begin yet other chapter in their academic careers. Victoria then introduced the new headmistress Virginia. After brief remarks from Virginia and Executive Director, Mihai, the Ruth School student body was addressed by someone who was in their shoes just a few years ago. S. Sebastian graduated from the eighth grade at the Ruth School and continued onto high school. Because of his high marks in high school, S. Sebastian was accepted into the university and will be studying Systems Engineering. He is an excellent role model that these students can do anything they set their minds to and we are grateful that he came a shared his story.

Finally, the moment came for the students to set out to their classrooms. Many of the nervous first graders were accompanied by their parents into their class. Where each of the twenty-four pupils were given book bags, notebooks and pencils of their very own to start off the year. The fifth graders also received new book bags because theirs from four years ago are wearing quite thin.  All Ruth School students received school supplies and seemed happy to be back in classes.

Please be in prayer for our students and teachers as they start off this school year strong!
Ali, a whole summer at Project Ruth
From the beginning of June to August, Project Ruth did not have to worry about having someone to do a wide variety of tasks because Ali Hall was on the job. Ali Hall was Project Ruth's long-term summer volunteer who was always willingly to do any task set before her. She conquered the giant iron machine while assisting in the clean of the Ruth Center. After school was out for the summer, Ali smelled like bleach for almost a week because she spent many hours with sanitizer and rags as she sought to make all the classrooms at the Ruth School clean and germ-free. Also, Ali helped three different mission teams from the USA and UK hold vacation bible clubs in three different communities and interacted with over 100 children over the course of the summer. In mid-July, Ali used her limited Romanian skills and relationships that she had built over the course of her time at the Ruth School to help supervise and lead a camp for about 60 Ruth School students in the mountains of Romania for six days. In her spare time, Ali helped translate teacher's comments and scan artwork for the end of the year school reports. Ali even made some artwork of her own towards the end of her time in Romania as she painted multiple murals in the Obed Day Center to brighten the classroom.

The staff, faculty and students of the Ruth School and Project Ruth are grateful for her help and energy this summer and are hopeful that she will be able to return on Project Ruth. Thank you, Ali Hall!
Summer camp organized by Orpington Baptist Church
On Sunday, July 10th, a group of 23 from Orpington Baptist Church set out for Casa Elim, a mountain retreat near the city of Bran.  Along with several youth from Providence Baptist church, this group worked alongside a few of the Project Ruth staff to conduct a Vacation Bible Camp for 40 Ruth School children.  The children, who range from 1st to 7th year, went on a hike up the mountains, and visited many local sights. This, of course, was accompanied with Bible school in the mornings.  Samuel Crisan, the youth pastor of Providence Baptist, narrated a Bible story each day. Afterwards, the camp broke up into groups (each group included children along with members from the Orpington team) for reflections on the story.  Throughout the week, various games and sport tournaments filled the free hours and   On Friday, an award ceremony was held in which all campers were recognized for their contributions to the fantastic week at camp.
Team from Shirley Baptist Church
This year, Shirley Baptist Church from the West Midlands England, were privileged to visit Project Ruth again, two years after our first visit. We were a group of 5 adults and 10 teenagers who ran a holiday club for 5 days at Scoala Rut with the children from the local neighbourhood.  Each day was based on a Bible story which included Joseph, David and Goliath, Moses parting the Red Sea and Daniel in the Lion’s Den and involved singing songs, playing games and making crafts. We had more and more children arriving each day, as they told their friends and family about the club, and whilst it was sometimes tiring, we built up relationships with the children and could see their appreciation of our friendship and enthusiasm! When they came running down the road towards us as we walked to the school in the mornings, it made all the fundraising and travelling worthwhile. We were also privileged to visit two gypsy villages where we spent time with the children and also experienced their gypsy church service which we all really enjoyed. However, as one group member put it, it wasn’t just the kids who were benefitting. We were filled with God’s love for all the people we met, whether we were in the Ruth School, or at the gypsy churches that we visited. At the end of the week, we were treated to a trip into the mountains, where we learnt more about the history and culture of the country, as well as acquiring a sun tan! Overall, it was a wonderfully inspirational week, one which we are unlikely to forget, and we thank Project Ruth for their hospitality and friendliness.
End of the school year celebration
On Friday, June 17, the Ruth School students and teachers celebrated the end of another great school year. At nine in the morning the students, along with their families, joined the faculty and staff on the sports field for a celebration. This celebration included the graduation of twelve students from the eighth grade. These twelve students spent the weekend after the celebration studying for the national high school entrance exam which they took the following Monday. Project Ruth has received notification from many of these young scholars that they have been accepted in high schools specializing in the areas of learning in which they have excelled in and will be attending in the fall. Project Ruth, along with the students of the Ruth School and Obed Day Center, would like to thank everyone who made this school year possible and one of the best yet!
Wollaston Baptist Church visit.
Our friends from Wollaston Baptist Church, have visited the school for few days.
They are among our faithful supporters since Project Ruth started. Due to health reasons, Peter Williams, the pastor of Wollaston Baptist Church, was not been able to come this time.
We want to thank them for their faithfulness during the years and for all what they have done in partnering with us in the many projects for Roma children of Ferentari area in Bucuresti.
Saskia - volunteer from Sweden
After arriving in Bucharest from Sweden I looked for opportunities where I could experience different aspects of Romanian society. I had a flexible schedule and was therefore interested in volunteering part time at a school in the Ferentari neighborhood. This area attracted my attention due to it's socio-economic problems and this in turn in relation to it's high percentage of Roma minority residents. Initially I had a hard time getting into contact with schools and NGOs with a focus on Roma children that were willing to let me take part in their project. Eventually I was lucky enough to hear about Ralph and Project Ruth through a common friend. Ralph and Mihai, the Executive Director, introduced me to the area as well as to the project. I was thereafter given the unique opportunity to work with the energetic and inspiring kids of the 5th, 6th and 7th classes, as well as with the younger ones at the Obed Day Center, Project Ruth's kindergarten. 
After each session I felt happy and exhausted at the same time! The kids follow me into my dreams and inspire me to keep doing similar work in the future. Teaching at the school gave me a strong feeling of gain and I wish I could stay longer in order to give the children a good follow up. The exercises that I do are beneficial for people of all ages and backgrounds, but for this particularly vulnerable group they make even more sense. My mother Jenny Butler visited the school on one occasion and is also willing to return in order to give a workshop to the teachers. In this way the children and the teachers of Project Ruth will be able to continue working with therapeutic exercises.
John Upton - president of World Baptist Alliance

On Wednesday 18th of May 2011 the Ruth School welcomed a familiar face and friend in the person of Dr. John Upton. He is currently serving as President of the Baptist World Alliance in addition to being Executive Director of Virginia Baptists. Dr. Upton had previously visited the Ruth School many years ago when the school was still using the first building. Virginia Baptists have been faithful supporters of the Ruth School and the Gypsy Smith School for many years. This trip allowed him a return visit to the Ruth School and to Providenta Baptist Church where he brought greetings from Baptists around the world along with words of encouragement.
Another highlight of his trip was meeting with Traian Basescu, President of Romania. Along with Dr. Oti Bunaciu, current President of the Romanian Baptist Union, they were able to present a Bible to President Basescu.
Additionally, Dr. Upton was a prominent guest at the Congress of the Romanian Baptist Union. While at this Congress, Dr. Bunaciu was re-elected to another four-year term as President.

Clothes and shoes for children
The main thrust of the Ruth School is to provide education to the mostly Rroma children of the Ferentari district of Bucuresti. These children often come from desperate situations and have many needs beyond learning. Project Ruth often partners with humanitarian organizations to help meet those needs. World Vision is one example of a long and beneficial relationship. Recently they provided new clothing and shoes for the students of the Ruth School. Almost every child received a nice t-shirt (boys) and a pair of trousers (girls) along with a pair of shoes.
During the Communist era all school children were required to wear uniforms and individuality was swallowed up. The children of that time period detested it. Ironically, the children of today crave one particularly appealing design and could care less that everyone else is wearing the same design! The students of the Ruth School were very happy with the gift of clothing and shoes from World Vision. One thing to note is how the children seek extra items, not for themselves, but for siblings that remain at home.


Community Impact Through Tea and Cakes
At Project Ruth we hope to have an impact beyond the school fences.

Children that attend the Ruth School come from needy families and we have many with parents that are divorced. Even if the family has both parents, in most cases the mother is the one who looks after the kids.

The team from Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC, understands the important role mothers play in the education of their children. During their week here they invited the mothers of the Ruth School students for tea and cakes one morning. The team offered encouragement by sharing some of their personal parenting stories and ideas of how the mothers can support their children while they attend school.

After some delicious refreshments the mothers enjoyed sponge painting clay pots in bright spring colors. There was much laughter and talk around the tables. It was a fun time!

Project Ruth hopes to organize regular activities for the mothers with the goal of encouraging them to be involved in the life of the Ruth School.
Ruth School Olympic Games!
During the last week of April, the Ruth School welcomed a small team from Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. The team planned and directed various activities for students and teachers during their week in Ferentari. 

The Ruth School students were thrilled to participate in their own "Ruth School Olympic Games!" Posters in the hallways and cafeteria had the students buzzing about the upcoming events! All the grades were divided into four equal teams and each morning two grades combined together to compete. Emphasis was put on pariticipation and good sportsmanship. The parade of nations received much friendly applause as did the Olympic torch and flag! Creative relay races had the students charging from one end of the room to the other!

School spirit soared as students anticipated their day to compete. Each student proudly wore a bandana with their country's colors every day of the week. The wrap-up event included a hot dog lunch and the awarding of an Olympic medal to each student. The children walked home that day with a spring in their step as they showed off their medals and bandanas!
Facility Upgrade!
The Gypsy Smith School for leadership training has now been active for a number of years. Providenta Baptist Church from the Ferentari district of Bucharest has hosted the four annual conferences. The conference room was a tight fit for the number of students that regularly attended. Especially in the December and January sessions, when the windows were closed due to the harsh winter weather, the room became stifling and was in desperate need of fresh air.

Praise God that the Library at the Ruth School has been renovated with carpeting, curtains, comfortable reading couches and the appropriate desks. It also provides access to the Internet and use of a video projector. It can easily accomodate 30 students in multiple arrangements and allow students to have plenty of light and fresh air. In addition, the Ruth School meal preparation staff is able to cook meals in their well-equipped kitchen for the GSS students as well as continuing to provide the daily lunch to Ruth School children.

Last week we held our initial conference in the Library and it was a complete success! Two courses were taught to prepare and better equip the leaders from the Rroma churches to more effectively preach, teach and disciple the believers in the communities where they live and also to reach out to the ones who are far from knowing God's love.

We have attached some pictures of the renovated library to give you an idea of our conference capabilities!
Outpouring of love for Moceanu
Dear Friends of Project Ruth,

We wish to thank you for the outpouring of sympathy that so many of you have expressed in the passing of Vasile Moceanu.  We continue to receive daily messages of condolence and encouragement to the family and friends of our dear friend.

The funeral service was held on a wonderfully sunny and warm day.  Many of Moceanu’s family, church family, colleagues and friends gathered to honor this man who impacted so many with his faith and friendship.  His coffin was transported to the cemetery in the Project Ruth van bearing the license plate “B 25 RUT .”  It was a fitting last trip for the driver who was so protective of the van and the groups and individuals he carried. 

Words were shared at the graveside by Oti acknowledging the many condolences that were sent.  Further recognition was given to groups who sent flowers to beautify his final resting place.  Many hymns were sung, encouraging scripture was offered and a multitude of tributes about Moceanu were shared.  The funeral reflected well the significant influence that this humble man had on so many.  His presence will be missed.


The Loss of a Friend
On March 9th Project Ruth and all of its friends and supporters said farewell to a dear friend.  Vasile Moceanu passed away from cancer on that day.  Many will remember him as the first face they met upon arriving in Bucharest as he worked as the official driver for Project Ruth for many years.  Every team of volunteers and every GSS/TCM teacher had the privilege of meeting this humble servant of God.  A skilled driver with a detailed knowledge of the streets of Bucharest Morceanu safely delivered all such visitors to their many destinations.  Although he spoke little English visitors were warmly welcomed by Moceanu with a handshake or kiss on the cheek. 

Moceanu was a delight to the children of the Ruth School.  He regularly delivered lunch to the children attending Obed Day Center and his pockets often held pieces of candy for the Roma children.  While he waited in the van for staff or visitors to complete their errands you would often find Moceanu reading his Bible.  He was recognized in his family and his church for his steadfast belief in God.  His faith stood firmly throughout his final days and he was a strong witness of God’s love to the many friends and church family who gathered at his bedside daily.

The Project Ruth family grieves the loss of our dear friend but rejoices that he has found wholeness and peace and complete joy in the presence of God our Father. 

Mother's day
Raising children is a journey that takes years and it is not an easy one.

In most cases mothers are the ones who carry the responsibility for raising children. They feed the babies and comfort them when they are crying and stay up during the night when the child is sick. But that is not what a mother cherishes. She watches the child growing up, the first steps, she hears the first words and experiences great joy in many other things her offspring learn to do in the process of growing up.

In Romania, March is the time when women and in particular mothers, are celebrated. This is not a reward-based celebration for nothing can reward a mother for all the work of caring for her children. It signifies rather the recognition of their love and sacrifice for their children made over many years.

The 8th of March is a time when every child wants to say a big thank you to his/her mother for the love received from her.

Our children at Ruth School organized a small celebration and all the mothers where invited. Unfortunately, we were disappointed that not many came to see the children singing and reciting poems to honor them.
Nevertheless, the children were encouraged to express their love for their mothers and it is a tradition we hope to build on.
 
Worshipping the Roma Way!
The Gypsy Smith School welcomed 24 students this past week for leadership training, prayer and fellowship with one another. Dr. Warren Hoffman and Dr. Terrell Carter from Third Baptist Church of St. Louis, MO, together with instructed the students in New Testament studies that included examining the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  The thirs teaches had to leave due to his father death. 

The professors noticed as the week went on that several of the choruses being sung by the Roma to the accompaniment of an accordion were familiar hymns to them from the USA. It touched their hearts to hear these well-known tunes being sung by Roma leading churches across Romania.

Music and singing have always played a valuable role in Roma culture. In many Roma communities you will find them enjoying warm weather by sitting outside playing and listening to music for hours on end.

It is notable that after they receive Christ into their hearts music remains a big part of their lives but now they sing to worship God!

In recognition of a week spent focusing on the Lord’s Supper the professors served the students in Communion during their last hour together. The students left with a strong sense of connection with God and with each other!
Project RUTH Presentation