We went to the Red Cross here in Varazdin last week. We didn't have an interpreter with us, just taking a chance that they might have some one in the office that speaks English. We were wrong, but the director, so very cute, got on the phone and called her daughter. Who within ten minutes came whipping in with the best English ever! She translated and we determined with the director that we would try to get them about 10 wheelchairs out of the next batch of 250 that are coming into Zagreb. They really didn't need any more help until Christmas when their needs will be great for food. We asked her if there was a soup kitchen in Varazdin. She told us that there was, that they were in temporary quarters right now because a new one was being constructed for them. She also told us that they were under the direction Caritas an arm of Catholic Charities. Ahhh! We had heard of them before. Evidently some of the Elders had offered to help and had been turned down flat. We asked her who we would need to talk to in order to get our foot in the door, Oh ! That would be Our Bishop! She said his name reverently, with much admiration and respect. I would like to meet this man, I thought to my self!
Armed with a little piece of paper that she had written his name on and some verbal directions we proceeded to go find "The Bishop." We wandered around the town square where the Cathedral is, tried to figure out where the doorway to his office might be when we saw 4 or 5 girls, maybe 15 or 16 sitting on a park bench. They were just enjoying the autumn sunshine, giggling like girls this age should, so I approached them and asked if any of them spoke English. In unison they all said, "Yes!" they studied it in school and spoke it very well. Must have studied hard. I showed them my little paper with the Bishop's name on it, and asked if we were in the right place. "Oh yes! He's our Bishop! Again, with reverence, respect and much love. I really wanted to meet this man! We were instructed where to go. I was concerned as to what we should do when we went up to the great huge door. Should we knock, should we just go in. Culturally we are idiots here and I didn't want to make a mistake. I asked the girls and they were quick to relieve my worries, just go in...there are offices and someone will help you.
They were right, we were met by a sweet little nun who could not speak a word of English, they quickly got a maintenance man involved. The Bishop was performing a mass. He would talk to us when he finished, At least that was what we think they said. Any way to make a long story short. We were ushered into the cathedral to mass. It was beautiful! The Cathedral was built in 1656. It has been desecrated by wars, rebuilt, and been beautifully restored. It's very plain on the outside. You would never know such beauty was on the inside. We sat in the back and watch the mass, there were about 15 priests and I believe it was some kind of special service to commemorate something. I don't know Croatian, so obviously I'm only guessing, But at the end of the mass they all stood and got their pictures taken. Looked like a special occasion to me! They sang and chanted during the service and it was lovely. After the mass, the Bishop's secretary who spoke English talked to us and we arranged to visit with the Bishop on Monday. I was right, it was an occasion, and the bishop and his fellow priests were going to eat a celebration lunch together.
We would wait until Monday. Sunday was a day of fasting and prayer. We had no translator lined up and needed one desperately. There is a young girl here that speaks excellent English, we had hopes that she would translate for us, but had been told that she was in Germany going to the temple for the first time. She was expected home on Sunday. We called her Sunday afternoon, she answered! What's more exciting was that she was thrilled to have the opportunity to translate for us! We have contracted her to be our translator for all our Croatian work.. She will travel with us when we need her to. We have a separate translator for Bosnia.
Anyway, when we called to confirm the appt. the secretary asked us if we could come on Tues. instead. The Bishop wanted the President of Caratis to be present when he talked to us and Tues would suit him best. We were thrilled! Good sign.. to my Catholic friends, and to my L.D.S. friends it is not unusual in Utah or anywhere really in the U.S. to work together for a common good, but here, our church is so obscure and looked at with great mistrust. It will be a small miracle for us to be able to work with them.