Saturday, October 18, 2014

Roma Home Building Partner WINS EU 1st PLACE PRIZE

ETP Slovakia - the NGO that the Church partners with to give aid to the Roma people of Slovakia (see our post of Sept 17, 2014)- just won the TOP PRIZE as the most outstanding NGO in the European Union this year!!!

Here is the announcement: 

This last Thursday, October 16th, the European Economic and Social Committee, located in Brussels Belgium, has announced the winner of the 2014 Civil Society award. Out of 81 excellent organizations nominated from throughout the European Union, ETP Slovakia was awarded the top prize.
President Henri Malosse together with Vice-President Jane Morrice announced the ranking of the 2014 Civil Society Prize winners during the October plenary session of the EESC.
ETP Slovakia received the first prize for their project Building Hope, through which they teach Roma communities in Slovakia how to construct their own legal homes.
ETP is a non government organization that has 10 community centers in Eastern Slovakia. ETP has worked in Roma marginalized communities for 12 years with the purpose of helping them help themselves to integrate into Slovakian society. 

Elder and Sister Miller with Elder Stay and the ETP contractor at Roma home

Notes from our current Humanitarian Missionaries in Slovakia, Elder Ross and Sister Rosina Miller :

In 2007  Elder and Sister Behunin, the first Slovakian Humanitarian missionaries for the LDS Church,  began partnering with ETP to provide help.  Humanitarian aid has been given in several projects since that time.   We have been very impressed with ETP's complete approach to helping the Roma.  Most people in Slovakia have very negative attitudes toward the Roma.   We know that a lot of time and money from several sources have attempted to address the problem of helping these people to become a part of the normal society here in Europe.  A list of issues and historical perspective has kept them isolated.  Somehow, Slavka - the director of ETP - and her organization ETP Slovakia, have worked tirelessly to adapt their efforts to find a way to truly change the lives of the Roma by giving them hope and dignity.  We believe that ETP well deserves this recognition.  The Church Humanitarian Services has supported the 'Building Hope' project in Rankovce, (with providing clean water for the homes being built) which is the focus of this year's award and recognition.  LDS Humanitarian Services are currently helping ETP with the reconstruction work to expand their efforts in the community of Velke Ida, funding the materials for the refitting of the community center. We are grateful to be allowed to work with such great people to serve the Lords Children.

Elder and Sister Miller, Kosice, Slovakia

Both of these projects are shown in the video titled, The 3 winning projects
The first video box is a video of each of the 3 organizations, finalist for the reward, sharing the work that they are doing and what they have done to lift, change the lives of the Roma people.
ETP Slovakia begins at 1:50.  The LDS Church is funding the refitting of the community center at Velke Ida shown at 2:42 and the housing shown at 3:05 and 3:32.  Note that all the actual labor on the community center and the homes is done by the Roma themselves (3:13)

To hear from the director of ETP (Slavka) after she was  presented with the EESC  award and her acceptance speech, click on the video entitled  Winner of the 1st prize : ETP Slovakia – Centre for Sustainable Development     Interview with Slávka Mačáková, Director ETP 

Slavka is constantly putting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints forward and recognizing the Church for their support. 

Here is a blogpost of some of our young missionaries volunteering with ETP,  highlighting the last service day that the missionaries were able to participate in. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Favorite Projects : Nermin watering the crops in Bosnia

Nermin (on right) with Elder Winters in one of the greenhouses

We partnered with the Red Cross to supply some greenhouses to an agricultural school to help the students learn good farming practices in Bosnia.  During the school year the students  plant and care for the growing plants, but the school year ends before the crops are harvested.  Nerman, who is the Red Cross translator for our Humanitarian Couple, took it upon himself to go and hand water the plants every day all summer long.  
Tomatoes, onions, peppers and cucuimbers are the most common foods grown
The produce from the greenhouse he takes to the local Tuzla Soup Kitchen, elderly home, and orphanage.  He did this just out of the goodness of his heart with no pay from us or the Red Cross or the school.  (Project WE13BIH003)

View of Bosnia from the greenhouses.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Favorite Projects: Roma building their own homes and getting skills in Slovakia

Roma home near legal homes

Stealing electricity

ETP in Slovakia is an amazing organization helping the Roma Community.  Normally the Roma have no permanent homes.  The squat in vacant lots or in abandoned buildings, stealing electricity from the neighbors  until they are chased out, then they move to somewhere else and  do it again.  

ETP is breaking that cycle.  They tell the Roma, “If you save a small amount each month in the bank, we will match that amount at the end of a year.  You can use that as a down payment on a home you will build.”  If they agree and save the money, then they are able to use that money as a down payment on a plot of land and materials to build a house.  ETP hires a contractor to go out every day with tools to teach five or six Roma families to build neighboring houses.  He says, “Today you will dig a trench from here to here for the foundation. “  Every day he provides the tools, materials, and instructions for that day’s work.  The Roma do the work.  When they are finished , they have their own home for the first time in the history of their family.  Because they own the house and land, they can connect to electricity, water and sewer.   

Rankovce does not have a public water supply. 30 % of homes in Rankovce have their own drinking water well and 70 % of homes use one central public pump and have to bring water to their homes in buckets.
575 of Rankovce Roma residence walk ½ mile to the one community open hand pump to get their water.  The water is carried in open buckets or other containers. This project will drill a well which will pump water into a bured cement reservoir.  From the reservoir the water will be brought directly into the homes which are being built by the Romas.  The homes are being constructed by the Romas under careful supervision and passing all inspection requirement to make the homes legal under Slovak regulations.

 We partnered with ETP to provide the water for these homes buying the tubing, pipes, and fittings. 

 Then the home owner helps teach a dozen more families in a nearby village to do the same thing the next year.  At the end of the second season,  he is given a certificate that makes him a licensed building contractor.  So now he has a home, skills, and the ability to make a living. He has become self-reliant. 

We were invited into one of these  homes and the proud young man and his wife were beaming as they showed us their indoor bathroom, with running water, the kitchen with a stove, a bedroom and a heater; a whole new lifestyle.

Roma home owner with cool stairway up
OK.  Compare BEFORE (at the top of the post) with AFTER (above): How cool is that!!!!

Elder and Sister Miller by finished Roma Homes.  Good Job!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apostles Bednar and Ballard visit Germany

Elder Patrick and Jennifer Kearon are in the middle : Hallstroms on the right

We heard both of them speak at the Women's meeting, Tuesday Sept 9, at the Offenbach chapel. 
Pres Koch, Frankfurt Temple President, is in the middle.  He is the grandpa of the best Elder in the mission, Elder Reiser, IMHO.

During the week, the apostles had meetings elsewhere, including our Frankfurt building and office building

Elder Ballard with Elder Teixiera, Area President.  Behind him are Craig Hunt, Europe Area DTA and Elder Foote, YSA and Social Media Specialist for Europe
In our Frankfurt Chapel.  Elder Stay fixed four bikes for the missionary on the front row 5th from the left in the green tie.  And we fed him homemade chicken soup, potato salad and rolls tonight for dinner

On Saturday, Elder Ballard came to our Senior Missionary Zone Conference at the Frankfurt chapel for dinner and took the time to speak to EACH couple.  Elder Stay and I gave our farewell talk : a powerpoint of some of our favorite Humanitarian projects

And, on Sunday, we had a special Stake Conference at the Stadthalle in Offenbach at which Elder Ballard spoke.  I am sitting just to the left of the edge of that photo.
We know and love many of the people in these photos.
Yes, German women of all ages do occasionally wear dirndls to church.  And some men wear beautifully cut Bavarian suits.

 I am just out of the picture, here on the left.

What a great sendoff from our mission!
You can read the article and see even more photos here 

Favorite Projects : Teen Girls Build a House

In Macedonia the Red Cross sent a team of volunteer college kids to each high school in the country to teach them Humanitarian Principles.  Then they challenged the students to form a team from each school to go find a need, design a solution, get funding locally, and complete the project.  200 teams did that and the results were published in a book that we have.  

Homeowner and our translator

One project we visited was championed by two high school girls.  They found a woman and her mentally disabled daughter living in a shed.  They got the village to donate some land, an architect to draw a plan, a contractor to oversee construction, companies to donate supplies and volunteers to help with the labor. 

The house the girls built
They built the woman and her daughter a small home that we visited.  The home has a combination frontroom/bedroom, kitchen, indoor bathroom, basement storage for food, electricity and running water.  The smiles on their faces were priceless as they proudly showed us their small but snug and warm home.  

View from the house

We then provided the Red Cross with the funds to repeat the training process at all the High Schools in the country  the next year and so for the price of one project got about 200 charitable projects accomplished.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Favorite Projects : Shoemaker in Moldova

In Moldova there is a disabled shoemaker named Constantine who has a shoe making shop. His wife is the designer/pattern maker.   He has a staff of mostly disabled people helping him.  LDS Charities bought him a sewing machine to replace the 50 year old Soviet machine he had been using.  With the new stronger, quieter, safer machine he is able to produce better shoes more quickly.  

We also found a kindergarten on a mountain top where the children all needed boots  because the bathroom was on the other side of the playground and in the winter that meant a march through the snow.  Our humanitarian couple hired the shoemaker to make 200 pairs of boots for them so the children and the shoemaker both benefitted.  

The following year he approached us about purchasing a sport shoe sewing machine.  We bought it for him so he has been able to expand his business and hire more people.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Some of our favorite projects : Chicken Coop in Romania

Chicken Coop in Romania

In  Romania there is a home for the aged that is sponsored by the Red Cross.  Most are patients discharged from hospitals with no home or family to care for them.  

The Red Cross has an old home that houses a dozen or so residents.  Others live in modified shipping containers on the property next door until a second new house is finished. 

 Local residents of the community voluntarily feed these people 3 meals a day, donating time and the food out of the kindness of their hearts.  

The residents supplement this with produce from their garden and fruit trees on the property.  

But the meals do not include a lot of meat or protein, given its expense.  So the Church provided a chicken coop and chickens for this home.  The chicken coop has a concrete floor and walls with a strong metal roof.  It is surrounded by a fenced-in concrete pad and in many ways it is better than most of the homes (for people) we passed driving there.  

Now the residents can have eggs for breakfast, chicken for supper occasionally and a little extra to sell for other necessities.  

One fond memory is of a little babushka (grandmother) standing inside the fence with a chicken under each arm talking to them and caring for them individually.  The Red Cross workers say she spends most of her day there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Europe Area Sister’s Meeting Broadcast 2014

Europe Area Sister’s Meeting Broadcast 2014

Just home from Bosnia in time to go to this meeting in Offenbach, about 20 minutes from our apartment.  And my last phone conversation of the day was with Sister Nelson in Macedonia who was telling me she needed to stop talking and go fix dinner for all the women in the church in Macedonia: if the one brand-new member came, that would make SIX women! And I know FIVE of them.  Awesome people: Sister Nelson, two sister missionaries, Ana and Gordana.

My personal favorites of the evening were Sister Jen Kearon, and Sister Diane Hallstrom, and, of course, Elder David Bednar.

At times I felt like the meeting was planned just to summarize and celebrate the end of our mission here.  I would LOVE to take home all the great friends I've made here: especially the awesome women!

You can listen to the meeting HERE, in your choice of languages.

Monday, September 1, 2014

July in Texas

I flew to Dallas TX when my daughter gave birth to lovely Emily in July. 
 I had a wonderful visit.
Levi colors a flag for the 4th
sweet sleeping baby

more art

Levi took 20 photos of his cars

very hungary caterpillar

Dad and daughters

Levi in 4th of July parade


park two
ice cream from the ice cream truck

park three

swimming and ice cream

lots of swimming

lots of reading

lots of sewing



Emily in Anna's first dress

Anna in a German dress
 Things I really enjoyed again!!

fresh tender sweet corn

drinking fountains
real Mexican food
Blue Bell Ice Cream : look at all those flavors!!!

Chick Fil A
Sweet Babies