Sunday, July 24, 2011

International EFY Europe: Believe. Hope. Endure.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul- We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things. 13th Article of Faith

What a great week we had! We traveled to Blaubeuren, Germany with our Tadic family teenagers for EFY. We left Sunday night and went as far as Zagreb where we stayed in the mission home over night, picking up two darling Croatian girls that rode a bus from their home town in Zadar, it's on the Croatian coast, and then the office couple brought them to the mission home to meet up with us. President and Sister Rowe hosted us, fed us a wonderful meal and had a fireside for the kids. It was a wonderful way to start our trip. The next morning we got up at o dark hundred, which would be 3:30 in the morning, we herded the cats, no, did I say that? We herded the kids to the van and only an hour late met up with Elder and Sister Taylor in Ljubljana, Slovenia. They had a van full of Croatian and Slovenian teenagers. We ate a little breakfast and away we went.

Dinner with President and Sister Rowe in the mission home.

The Tadic teenagers have a cousin, Victor, he's from Serbia and they wanted him to go to EFY with them. Even though he isn't a member, we made arrangements for him to come providing he cut his hair to be in accordance with church standards. He showed up with his long hair. Our cute Mission Mom made short work of it and he absolutly LOVED his new look! He was always surrounded by cute girls, I think that helped a lot!

Arriving in Germany we couldn't help but love the coolness that the soaking rain had brought. We had been so sweltering in the Bosnia/Croatian heat that the cool felt like a great gift. But really? Rain for the whole week??? Be careful what you ask for is my new slogan to live by. It did rain all week; we drove up there in a driving rain and drove home in a driving rain.

But for all the rain, it didn't dampen the spirits of our cute little teenagers. They had a great week and we felt it a privilege to be able to be there with them. The best part of it was they got to see about 300 other kids from 27 different countries and I think they really understand that they are part of a worldwide church and that they are not alone. They made great friends, exchanged addresses, e-mail addresses, face book and Skype information. They felt the spirit in abundance and strengthened their testimonies. It meant that we took a week off from our humanitarian work but it was worth every minute to see them so excited and enthusiastic about what they had experienced this last week! We've sent a few of our own children to EFY, We've stood in the hot sun for what seemed like hours in the BYU parking lot to get our dear Philly youth registered and into their rooms, we've seen our oldest grandchild, Chase go to EFY and heard many a testimony from our different ward youth coming home from EFY, but I think that after this week I have a whole new appreciation for all the effort that goes into one of these events. All I can say is, WOW! Hat's off to those wonderful people who love our youth and orchestrate such an amazing program to help strengthen them. In the world we live in today, they need all the help they can get, don't they?

We drove straight through yesterday, arriving back in Bosnia about 10:30 P.M. It was good to sleep in our own bed, wish I could say that we got to sleep in a little, but we had to get the van back to the rental place early. Tomorrow we go back to Croatia and try to get some things done there. We will be back in Bosnia on Thursday.

Before I start posting pictures, I just want to tell you one little experience that we had while in Germany. We had been having such hot weather here in Banja Luka, that even though we knew it was going to be a little cool in Germany, I didn’t pack warm enough clothes. I found myself freezing to death. We had our wonderful rain slickers that my niece VaLinda had sent us with our humanitarian logo embroidered on them, but they are not much for warmth. I was not the only one that was freezing, I went into the food tent one morning and Vanja, our 15 year old, was just about blue with cold. She was shivering just as much as I was, I asked her why she didn't have a jacket on, she dipped her head down and said, "I forget it". After our duties were finished that morning Elder and Sister Taylor and Jim and I went in to a little village close by the EFY facility and we found a clothes store. I bought myself a sweatshirt and found a cute little one for Vanja. Hers only cost me about $7.50. When we got back, I pulled her aside and said, "Vanja, I have something for you" "For me????" I pulled the sweatshirt out of the bag and gave it to her, it took me a minute but I realized that she could hardly talk; she just stood there hugging her newly acquired sweatshirt and sobbed! "Oh thank-you, mama, oh thank-you!" She had me in tears at that point and I realized how small a thing I had done, but how huge it was to her. She wore that sweatshirt every day we were there and this morning she had it on at church! As we said good night to them that night, she again hugged me tight and said, "thank-you mama, and then she went to Jim and did the same, “thank-you, daddy”

Our mission is made up of one after another of these small moments....we will be forever changed by those small little moments in time. How grateful we are for this opportunity of a lifetime to serve and be a part of this great work.
Our kids from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia

Meals were served in the "food tent".  They were very much European meals. Sandwiches for breakfast, hard boiled eggs, Sandwiches for lunch, and sandwiches for dinner. It's all in the eye of the beholder, the kids thought the food was one of the best things at EFY!!!

This is the Tues, night dance. I chose to show you this picture because it's the only one I took that has the flags in it. 27 countries were represented at this International EFY and all their flags hung around the gym . It was really pretty cool. Jim and I helped with the translation devices.  We of course took care of the Serbian devices and also the Polish an Ceck translations. I was surprised at how many American kids there were. Embassy workers and Service personal from all over Europe were able to send their children to this EFY.

Jim with Vanja and her friend. She has her sweat shirt on.

Time to leave....many group hugs,


laurie said...

Hey those kids look like all the kids in my ward! How nice for them to meet each other! And of course you and Jim will be the favorite missionaries into eternity!

cynphil6 said...

How fun! I dropped Lauren and Chris off at EFY this past Monday. What a GREAT opportunity for your kids. I love the theme for this year, too. I hope all of our kids have a great time! xoxo