Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Boarder Crossings...a weekly exercise in patience.

Okay so this week I think I might whine a little. All in all we think we have the best mission ever! Croatia is like living in the Garden of Eden as far as the Balkan countries go. Oh, excuse me, as far as Southeastern Europe goes. That term is much more politically correct. When we reflect on all our blessings, a great apartment, with a wonderful land lord, a car, a bakery /grocery store right across the street, a charming little town to live in, a washing machine, wonderful leadership in both our mission and in our humanitarian area, darling young elders that we love and adore....you get the picture. We are pretty blessed, so exactly what do I have to whine about? Well it's this...
                                          BOARDER CROSSINGS
Once a week we go to Banja Luka, Bosnia from Croatia, so of course we have to cross the boarder. Usually we are able to zip right through going that direction. There are times when the trucks are lined up for miles, but Jim is pretty good at navigating our little car around them and into a car only lane.  At the Croatian boarder they ask for passports, stamp us and we are off. Then we cross a hugh bridge where our church name tags come off and we become volunteers instead of missionaries by the time we  get to the Bosnian boarder, where it's something different every time. The only sure thing is that we will wait. They ask for passports, insurance papers, and car registration. We have given up on understanding their requests and just give them the blue folder with every thing in it. Then they have to find what they want. Some times we get greeted in Serbian/Bosnian and then when they find out we are Americans from Utah, they say, "Utah Jazz" Stockton to Malone, (they are little behind the times) and they wave us through. Gotta love the Utah Jazz! Next we have to stop at customs, Do we have anything to declare? Cigarettes, liquor? Nope, none of that. We see lot's of cars being stopped and searched, but have yet to have that wonderful experience.  After customs we are free and into a little town called Gradiska. Banja Luka is another 45mins-60mins away, through one little village after another.
     On the way back to Croatia, it's quite another story... When we get to Gradishka we are greeted by many street sellers. They sell, black market C.D's, pathetic little pictures of Christ with tears of blood down his face, woollen hand knitted socks, (which by the way are the warmest little things I've ever worn!)  Crochet doilies and table runners, little crocheted baskets and boxes of cigarettes. Then of course you have the Roma children darting in between cars just begging. Usually the traffic is horrendous! Trucks backed up for miles and to get around them you have to just be really brave and drive in the oncoming lane, hoping that no one decides to come through in a place where they can't get around you. So when you finally get in a car lane and start the waiting process you are an easy target for the sellers to come and try to get you to buy something. I feel so mean when I shake my head, "NO" and look away. Last week there was this little Roma boy that I watched almost get hit by a car. Nobody seemed to care or even to notice. But I thought I was going to witness a tragedy right on the spot. I can't even describe the chaos that is present.
We go to the boarder station and get passports stamped. And then cross the river again into Croatia. Going through the Croatian side is also a long process, But because we have again become missionaries, they send us on our way with out incident. Again, we have never had our car searched.
I got a few pictures for you this week as we were coming back to Croatia from Bosnia. All of them were taken from the car, so sorry about the bad quality.
Beautiful crochet doilies and baskets...

A little idea of the traffic that we just navigated.

Almost our turn! Yeah! This is getting out of Bosnia.

This River is the boarder line between the two countries. Sorry, I can't remember it's name. I will write in down when I go this week.

Wait in line again to get into Croatia. This was an easy day, sometimes traffic is clear over the bridge. The Sunday after the Serbian Christmas was really awful.

Almost through....Not bad, about 45 mins, from entering Gradishka to getting into Croatia.

We are always grateful that we aren't on a bus....the bus gets emptied, they all stand out in the cold and get passports checked and then are allowed to get back on.

Okay, this has nothing to do with boarder crossings, but I told Jim that I thought I could get this look down, and maybe people would stop dead in their tracks and give ME money! Of all the nerve, he told me I'd have to lose a little weight. No one would believe that I needed money to eat!

After being here almost six months we finally got our land lord and his family over for dinner. We had a great time!

Our Grand daughters 1st grade class sent us another Flat Stanley, We took him grocery shopping with the Elders.

Flat and our apartment building.

Flat and our Varazdin Castle,

Elder Anderson, Elder Knighton, Elder Lee
With sad hearts we say "Good-bye" to two of our Varazdin Elders.
Elder Knighton  is going to Osijek and Elder Lee in on his way to Zadar.
We get a new missionary to be Elder Anderson's companion on Weds.

Update on my reading of Jesus the Christ:
March 1, 2011- almost done with chapter 5, all references marked in my scriptures up to chaper 4.


April said...

Thank you so much for taking Mr. Flat around with you for the day!! KK has totally enjoyed it! She thinks he is real! I may have a lil something to do with that:) silly girl! her class is totally enjoying the reports you have sent! thank you again!

laurie said...

I LOVE your blog Debby! I can totally see you with that pitiful look on your face! I'd give you some money!