Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gratitude and More....

We started the week by being in the newspaper for our Red Cross Wheelchair closing. Not really celebrities, but made a tiny little corner on the back page. The missionaries translated it for us. It had about one sentence in it about the church.
Tuesday we went to lunch with the President of Caritas and his wife. Such good people, we are blessed to have been able to get to know them. As we entered the restaurant, there were two priests eating at a nearby table. Our friend had a few words with them and then sat down at our table. Being totally in the dark about what they spoke about, I didn't even give it a thought, until the priests got up to leave. And then as they left, they hesitated for a minute at our table, looked at me and in halting English, "God Bless You, God be with You". I was so touched by his small, sincere gesture. And then I remembered our friend, he must have told him what we were doing here in Croatia. Once more I was touched by their gratitude.

Then there was Grandma and Grandpa, You know Marcos grand parents. She called us on Monday night and asked if we would come to their house for dinner. We agreed and set the time. At 5:00 we arrived at their home and they invited us into their kitchen, Small, wood burning stove and a little table set with two plates! They had fixed a traditional meal with mixed meat and sour cabbage. Home made apple juice, (just about ready to turn hard) and cookies. No they would just sit and visit with us while we ate. REALLY ???
We had fun helping to decorate the tree..I guess bows are an American thing.
The members really liked them!
How could we refuse, they had worked so hard, most likely spent their whole weeks grocery money on this one meal. Oh My....such cute little people. So humble, so grateful that we got Marco a wheelchair. What a pay day for us!

Last Saturday, for our preparation day, we helped decorate the tree at the church. We had a great time. The missionaries hatched this great plan to distribute 500 copies each of  a Christmas letter that they had written, The Living Christ Statement and the Proclamation of the Family. They were so excited about the project, we rolled the papers up and tied them with a ribbon, for what seemed like hours, really it wasn't that long, but we ran out of ribbon and didn't get them all done. Last night we went with the missionaries and our little street singer. Since we neither sing, or speak Croatian, we were delegated to handing out the "gifts". It was a little slice of what the missionaries go through every day for us. They work so hard, with out seeing any results. Besides, it was really, really COLD out there.
Jim and I were passing out fliers ..any of you who have had the not so wonderful privilege of sitting next to me in Relief Society know why I was chosen to do that job! Besides my Croatian is terrible! They just had to teach me one phrase," Iz Volite"  "With Love"  I forgot it half way through...but don't tell the Elders! I just smiled and acted like a little old lady and they took them.  Jim was not as successful at passing them out. He didn't smile enough I think. We still handed out about 100 little rolled up gifts.

When we finished with our first street proselyting, we went to Grandma and Grandpa's again. We had seen them earlier in the grocery store and they invited us over to try their new batch of freshly pressed apple juice."No spray, just as God gave them to us"! We enjoyed the evening with them and gave them a pamphlet of the plan of salvation, their son has been dead for 5 years, and they are moved to tears of grief every time they talk about him. What a great blessing we have in "The Great Plan of Happiness"! We also left a Croatian Book of Mormon with them and taught them how to look up the answers to the questions  in the pamphlet They were so cute, they said that their son is a "Starjesina"....she pointed to Jim's name tag. "Really? where does he live?"  He lives in The Netherlands with his wife. And do you know what they have there? They have "The Fullness of The Gospel in the Netherlands"  Okay now, I leave it to you my dear blog readers, could it be that her son's family are members of the church?  We will see.  What ever it is, We wanted to say, "Hold on to your hat's folks...it's here in Croatia too!" Oh what comfort the gospel could bring to this sweet couple. We will see them again next week.

Jim presenting the President of Caritas a picture of Christ.
Today we had a wonderful closing ceremony for the Caritas Soup kitchen. Oh my, what a whirlwind! T.V. , Newspapers, radio, local and national. All for a stove. They were so grateful! Such good humble people. We felt bad being the center of all that when the kitchen volunteers were standing by and they are the true hero's. Working 6 hours a day to provide food for the hungry!

You might ask, why all the fuss? It's so against what we are always taught. Do our deeds quietly..not expecting the praise of men. But we have a two fold mission.1. Administer to the poor and the hungry and 2. Help bring the church out of obscurity.  I had a discussion with a member today that got me thinking. It seems he said, that the churches humanitarian department has become it's P.R. people. I guess it made me think, but really, if we can truly do good, accomplish both objectives with balance. What is going to be the most lasting benefit? A new stove or the hope and peace that the gospel brings into the lives of people? Those elect who are out there looking, may see a newspaper article tomorrow, and think, hummm, maybe I should check into these people. It's a balance. One that I believe is a good one even if our works are not done so much is secret.
I've never been in front of T.V cameras before so you can imagine how terrified I was when Jim told them I would be the spokesman. They asked how it was that we chose Caritas to work with?  Did we give the money for the stove or was it the churches funds?  How long will we be here in Croatia?  How did you choose Croatia to come to?
Things like that.............

The Star of the day! Four high powered burners, installed and ready to roll!

We had taken a picture of the chef on our first visit to the soup kitchen, printed it out and gave it as a gift to him. Jim said he thought he was more excited about the picture than the new stove! Sorry it's a little blurry,
I just couldn't delete it!

English Class tonight and Banja Luka tomorrow for the week-end. Maybe it will be warmer there. It got down to -11 C here last night, I just checked the conversion table. Okay so it's only 12.2 Fahrenheit . It still is plenty cold!

We got to talk to Rusty on his birthday...my how we love our children! Happy Birthday again , son! Hope you had a great birthday. His birthday was always the day we put the Christmas tree up. And it always takes me back to those wonderful times, of sugar cookies, messy house, jingle bells on the piano over and over again, snowmen , hot chocolate, gloves and boots on every register in the house, excited children wanting me to come inspect some treasure they had made. I loved being a mother at Christmas time even if I went to bed exhausted every night for a month, it was worth it to me. My babies were everything to me and Christmas was a time that I could spoil them unabashedly!

Until next week...We love you from Croatia!


laurie said...

What a wonderful memory for you! Hope you are surviving the cold...sending you warm thoughts from the desert!

Robin said...

You guys look fantastic...