Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Your Legacy...

Things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone. The things you do for others remains as your legacy."Bishop H. David Burton"

I saw this quote today and it got me thinking about the things we do in our lives...we go about our day to day activities, sometimes, (most of the time) on a dead run to achieve every thing we want to do for the day. I remember trying a "to do" list, a family calendar, a Franklin Day Planner and many other assorted schedual helpers. Usually, it was just all in my head or on floating pieces of paper. It doesn't take much for me to look back a few years and remember the loads of laundry to be done, the meals to cook, the yard work that needed to be done, the children taxied to a variety of activities, school and music lessons to be done and of course church callings that always took a chunk of time. Today most have tiny little computers in our hands, but my brain couldn't handle that even if I had one. I still resort to my head and my heart.

Hearing this quote made me think of all the little every day things that we do in our lives...."Have I done anything good in the world today?" I'm convinced that when we live a Christ centered life, we are also building a lasting legacy for our children and grand children. All those busy days of running around, all the days that Jim just got out of bed and put two feet on the ground and trudged to work, they just seemed like life to us then, but now looking back on it, I see it wasn't all just busy, busy, busy... we were serving our family, our friends, our ward...we were building a legacy!

The great thing about being on a mission is, yes, we have a schedual to keep, but I feel like it's a quiet, peaceful time in our life to concentrate on being lead and guided by the spirit. Being retired could find us in many different places. Maybe not serving our families quite as much as we did when they were little, being "put out to pasture" as my sister lamented about church callings to the elderly, having more "Me" time than we know what to do with. I think of all the seniors in the Casinos in Las Vegas, sitting for hours feeding the machines. What a force for good they could be if they directed their time towards building a legacy instead of looking for momentary pleasures.

I have been blessed to have so many wonderful examples of legacy building people in my life. I've tried to think of just one or two to write about here today but find it impossible to narrow it down to just a few.

At the top of my list was my mother, unselfish, kind, loving, grateful, gracious, giving. Anyone that knew my mother knows exactly what I'm talking about. Next on the list would have to be my Sister Pat, an angel here on the earth, walking among us. Raising grandchildren, unselfishly putting off any rest from parenting for not just a few years but a few decades! What a legacy she is building. I see some of my friends and another one of my other sisters that have built their legacy by pushing a wheelchair, feeding an elderly parent with tender care or clothing and combing hair with a giggle and a smile. I see the pain when they say good-bye for a season to that loved one that they served for so many years. I have a nephew who makes me laugh every time I see him. He's big! And I will never forget him saying, "When I'm in charge of the world, I will make sure nothing is hanging down from the ceiling".. That being said just after he knocked his head on a hanging kitchen light. He could have been cross, even said something really awful, but no, Mike made me laugh instead! His legacy to me will be laughter. And so my list could go on and on, legacies of love, sevice, obedience and devotion to our Savior have been my examples for years.

It has been with great pride and pleasure that I have seen my children in our absence, loving and serving each other. They haven't skipped a beat. They continue to have birthday celebrations, holiday dinners, and surround each other when times are hard. They are building wonderful memories for our grandchildren and a legacy of their own.

As we pray each morning to be lead, guided and protected by The Spirit, It's my hope that my legacy will be one of service to Our Heavenly Father. What a gift it is to us to be able to be here in Croatia and Bosnia.  To have the oportunity to serve as missionaries to the wonderful people in this part of the world is an extrodinary blessing. We do not take it lightly. Never to be taken for granted, it is a gift and one that we will always cherish.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Croatia is blooming with bikes and blossoms...

                                                          The World's Fastest Bicycle

 My bicycle's the fastest
                                                    that the world has ever seen;

                                                            it has supersonic engines

                                                      and a flame-retardant sheen

                                             My bicycle will travel  (Yes! that's a nun!)
                                                           a gazillion miles an hour --

                                                      it has rockets on the handlebars

                                                           for supplemental power.

                                                  The pedals both are jet-propelled

                                                     to help you pedal faster,

                                                         and the shifter is equipped

                                                     with an electric turbo-blaster.

                                                     The fender has a parachute

                                                        in case you need to brake.

                                                       Yes, my bike is undeniably

                                                        the fastest one they make.

                                                        My bicycle's incredible!

                                                               I love the way it feels,

And I'll like it even more,

When Dad removes the training wheels
--Kenn Nesbitt

These are just a few of the fun bicycle riders that we come across every day. Spring is here! And wow! are we ever grateful!  Croatia is beautiful in the spring, so is Bosnia. Last week we spent mostly in Croatia, preparing for our short term wheelchair specialist that are coming from Salt Lake, also Croatia is going to have the B.Y.U. International Dancers come visit in June. We had the opportunity of meeting with their director last week. We have submitted several projects that we hope will be approved this week and also had a great closing ceremony at the agricultural high school here in Varazdin. We supplied them with 4 high grade microscopes for their lab so they can do soil and food analysis. We were so surprised when we arrived, they had a wonderful program prepared for us by the school kids and a wonderful luncheon. We felt like royalty.

Easter was in Banja Luka with the Tadic family. They have a June 19th baptism date. All 9 of them, even the Grandma! We love them and are so happy for their good decision.  Our little sacrament meetings with them every Sunday are the high light of our week. Jim can say the sacrament prayers in Serbian, but our music is pretty terrible. We hope to take them to Serbia soon so they can see a real sacrament meeting, (we are waiting for passports that our friend Ed Rowe got for them). June will be a wonderful month, I need to start looking for baptism clothes for all of them...Yeah!!!! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

English Classes...a favorite activity.

Do we realize how strange our language is? A few weeks ago I told one of our translators that our missionaries were little stink pots, she looked at me with a strange look and said, “I don’t know that”. Really, you don’t know what a stink pot is? I explained to her that it was an endearing term for mischievous behavior or rascals. It made me think about other things we say all the time that is just plain strange. Here are a few:

A Drop in the Bucket:A very small part of something big or whole.

A Fool And His Money Are Easily Parted: It's easy for a foolish person to lose his/her money.
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand: Everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.
A Leopard Can't Change His Spots: You cannot change who you are.
A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned: By not spending money, you are saving money (little by little).

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words: A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.

A Piece of Cake: A task that can be accomplished very easily.

A Slap on the Wrist: A very mild punishment.

A Taste Of Your Own Medicine: When you are mistreated the same way you mistreat others.

A Toss-Up: A result that is still unclear and can go either way.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: It's better to actually do something than just talk about it.

Add Fuel To The Fire: Whenever something is done to make a bad situation even worse than it is.

Against The Clock: Rushed and short on time.

All Bark And No Bite: When someone is threatening and/or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight.

All Greek to me: Meaningless and incomprehensible like someone who cannot read, speak, or understand any of the Greek language would be.

All In The Same Boat: When everyone is facing the same challenges.

An Arm And A Leg: Very expensive. A large amount of money.

An Axe To Grind: To have a dispute with someone.

Apple of My Eye: Someone who is cherished above all others.

Cast Iron Stomach: Someone who has no complications or with eating anything or drinking anything.

Charley Horse: Stiffness in the leg / A leg cramp.

Chew someone out: Verbally scold someone.

Chip on his Shoulder: Angry today about something that occurred in the past.

Chow Down: To eat.

As High As A Kite: Anything that is high up in the sky or a person under the influence of drugs.

We tried to print off a few of these to take to our English class last week and realized that there were so many idioms that it was going to take 49 pages to print them all off! We really do use a lot of them. Check it out if you have some time. HERE

English classes really are a fun activity that we enjoy. We don’t go to all of them, just the advanced conversational class on Tuesday night. And if we are in Croatia we attend on Thursday nights as well. Last week there were 11 English students, they are a big cross section of population. As part of the lesson we asked them to tell us what they do for a living and describe a little bit about it. We have : 2 doctors, 1 secretary, 1 ITT specialist, 3 students, 1 Tupperware salesman, 2 musicians, 1 teacher and a cute little boy about 10 years old that comes with his dad. They are an extremely motivated and intelligent group of people. I think we learn more from them than they learn from us. Last week’s discussion question was: What would you change in the country of Croatia to make it safer for the people that live here. My goodness! I wasn’t prepared for the depth of their thought processes. A few that stood out:
Stop people from drinking too much and then getting in a car to drive home. There are laws against it, but they are not enforced.
 Make bicycle riders obey either pedestrian rules or vehicle rules. Don’t let them just arbitrarily decide which ones they want to obey depending on the circumstances.
I loved this one from one of our missionaries; make the drunken people that come out of bars wear helmets so when they fall on the cobblestone they won’t gash their heads in.
But the overwhelming answer from most of them was,
 Put all the politicians in jail, reelect new ones, put them in jail if they get corrupted and make them enforce the laws!!!

They really HATE their politicians! We kind of laugh, because don’t Americans all hate theirs as well?? We so often look at the differences of our countries and fail to see how much we are alike. I love it!

After English class this last week we met with one of the students and the missionaries taught her. She loved what she heard and even came to church this last week. We are so glad that we could be in on this first lesson, she is reading the Book of Mormon and seems really receptive. We have another lesson with her tonight after class. She is a single woman so the missionaries have to have Jim present to teach her, even if we can’t understand a thing that is being said, we can feel the spirit.

We had a great end of the week in Bosnia, we taught The Tadic family on Thursday night, on Friday we visited another hospital about an hour away from Banja Luka. I think we have only one more hospital to visit before we are done with the NRT follow up. We had a YW activity at our house on Saturday afternoon with 3 beautiful Young Women from the Tadic family. We made chocolate chip cookies, worked on personal progress, and watched (downloaded from I Tunes) Tangled. They loved it and so did I.

Sunday we had church at our house and a linger longer dinner activity. VERY FUN!!! The girls cleared the table and then made a prayer chart for their family to help them remember to have family prayers together. It turned out very cute and I suppose it said all the pertinent stuff. It was all in Cyrillic Serbian. Their names all start with a “V”…Violetta, Victoria, Vanja, Vedran, Vedrana, and Valentinea. I worried on the chart when I saw the names going on and they all started with a “B” ..So I guess a V is a B in Serbian.

We didn’t come home on Sunday night as usual, instead we stayed for a early morning meeting with the Red Cross and the Banja Luka City chief administrator. We discussed a water project  that we are trying to develop in a small village just on the outskirts of Banja Luka. They at times have to close the school down because the sewer and water supplies are not clean. We are going to get more details, but he was grateful for our offer to help and hopefully it will be a great new project for us. Gotta love it!

We love doing what we do, never forgetting that we have ones at home that love, support and encourage us. We pray for you always, may the Lord pour out His blessings on you as he has on us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A photo blog..

  Once again we were honored guests at a family party. Our son, Blake called us via Skype to join the family for our little Ian's birthday party. All the sudden we found ourselves at Chucky Cheese with about 20 of our kids and grandkids. Wow! What fun! I almost could taste the yucky pizza and diet coke! Oh how I miss my babies! One by one, I got to see them, well, most of them. Some were just too busy to stop and visit the long lost grandma and grandpa, but we did get to visit with most of them. Thanks Blake, it was a great party! We love Skype! And are so grateful for the technology that allows us to keep up on what is happening at home.

We miss these little darlings!
    I thought I'd do a photo blog of some of our activities this week. I just have such a mish-mash of things going on in my brain that I can't settle on any one thing to blog about. So what you see is what you get!

 This is a picture of Jim getting a speeding ticket. Yep! It was a good day! Truth be known, we have a target on our backs when we are in Bosnia. We have license plates that are from Zagreb, Croatia. So we get stopped all the time. They don't really like the Croats. Once they find out we are from America and Humanitarian Missionaries they usually tell us to go on, but not this guy. He gave Jim a $20.00 ticket, it could have been more, he was trying to be a little nice. Our translator had to go to the post office down the street and pay it before we could leave. Jim shook both cops hands and told them, "havala" Thank-You. What a guy! Twenty bucks lighter, but polite!

We went to a little town about 2 hours away from Banja Luka, called Doboj. We were on our way there when Jim got the before mentioned speeding ticket. We visited a little hospital there that invited to come see their maternity ward as a follow up to the NRT training. As we were leaving I saw this ambulance. It's a little fuzzy, but it says, "From the People of Japan". Wow! How the tables have turned, I hope we are all remembering the people of Japan and their generosity when times were better. It made me think of the responsibility we have to care for and help others when we can, because you never know. .. Tomorrow you might be the one needing the help.

There are TWO babies in this little wire basket. Mothers are on either side of their baby with six mothers to a room.  I have now been in 5 different hospitals doing follow-up for NRT and never have I seen one single father in any of the rooms. Interesting??? They are trying really hard to be mother/baby friendly but haven't gotten very family friendly.

This is our delightful hospital staff that took us around to see the hospital. Notice the only one with a stethoscope around her neck. She is a doctor; the others were either mid-wives or nurses. They are not allowed to use a stethoscope.

 This is the bed where they put the babies right after birth to do any NRT procedures, weigh and measure.

                                                        The hospital operating room.

Fortress in Doboj. We didn't get a chance to go inside for lack of time, we want to do a project for the hospital so we will be going back to this little town and hopefully schedual our time a little bit better.

This is the closest thing to a computer in the hospital. Some of the doctors have personal computers at home, but the hospital administration  will not allow internet access. The cost is too much.

This is the "new" up-graded model in the pediatric department. The other was in the OB department.

This has got to be one of my all time favorites! Our wonderful Doctor in Doboj proudly holding her newest delivery! She and her staff deliver an average of 1,600 babies a year in this hospital. They get their pre-natal care in their own viliages, but come into this town to deliver. Doctors need to decide when they start a practice, do they want to work in a hospital or in their own office. It's either, or. Not both.

Our two Varazdin Elders come every Monday to write e-mails to their families. We usually take them grocery shopping but this day was the first warm weather and they decided to write quick letters and then go finish off their prep day playing basketball. Can't blame 'em, can you? It's been a long cold winter here. Spring has come to Varazdin and we are all enjoying the possibilities of shedding coats and sweaters.

Family Home Evening at our house with our Varazdin members. It's been our goal to teach them that F.H.E. can be fun!

Our little Bosnian family watching conference with us. They learned the fine art of playing Conference bingo, Jim and I spent Saturday morning covering all the English words and putting Serbian words in their place. I think it was worth the effort. They seemed to enjoy their first time watching conference.

Well, that's  our week, Blogger has put on a new editor evidently and it has no spell checker, so if anyone out there has a way of getting the old editor back or somehow figuring out how to get me a spell checker I would appreciate any help I can get. Life is really tough for someone like me who is a computer idiot! and a terrible speller! Love to you all, even google blogging people who I've been losing my temper with for the last few hours. If you don't see a post for  awhile, know that I'm just disgusted and will return when my spell checker does.