August has come and gone, I guess that my lack of blogging this month deserves a little explanation. My last blog if anyone read it was about watermelons and the plethora of them here in this country. I guess I got a little political in my commentary and forgot that we are here at the pleasure of our host government, so with that being said, until I had a mighty attitude adjustment I took a little break from blogging. I’m back….. Just call me “Pollyanna” and realize that there will be much to talk about when we come home. With that being said I will try to recap August. It might take a few posts to do it all, but I'll do my best. To those of you who e-mailed me and encouraged me to get blogging, I thank you, it is because of your encouragement and love that I swallow my pride and move forward!
We did have an eventful month. I guess one of the highlights was being on Croatia National T.V. We had a news crew follow us around for about 3hours and a five minute spot on the Catholic Program, “Peace and Good” was the result. They told us at first that it would only be a 2-3 minute spot, so we were a little surprised at the length of it. It was a fun experience, a bit scary, but we felt like it was a blessing to help bring the church out of obscurity. We are always humbled to realize that we are here and having opportunities to be a part of this great work. “Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.
“And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.” (Alma 37:6–7.)
I’ve thought a lot about how we are here doing this work, and how so often we feel so totally inadequate for the task at hand and yet we always feel as if this work will go forth; Mostly in spite of us, not because of us. As we bumble our way around and just try our best, it seems that the Spirit holds us up, sustains us and guides in every situation.
For example: One of our hardest, yet most rewarding, responsibilities that we have is to have church every Sunday here in Bosnia. We have the Tadic family, they were baptized in June. They made a goal to be sealed in the temple on June 19th 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany. So here we are, responsible to get them ready for that huge commitment! So many things to teach, so many hurdles to jump over, such an ambitious goal! We seem to make such slow progress. We have been trying hard to teach the principle of tithing. Our hearts break for this family. Their income is so low, six children, debt, medical issues and the list goes on. Tithing is a huge obstacle for them, a struggle to say the least. Last week, our little Vickie, she is 18, came over on Sunday night and said she needed help filling out a tithing slip. I sat down with her, explained all the lines, told her to keep the yellow copy, seal the envelope, put her name on the outside and give it to her priesthood leader, (Jim) , that not just anyone could take the envelope from her. She followed my instructions, gave Jim a hug and then started down the stairs. On the way down, she said, “I can’t believe how wonderful that felt! My first time paying tithing! I never could have imagined it would feel this good”! Progress is being made! Vickie got a job at the first of the summer to help bring income into the home. She is putting off any thoughts of college for herself because the lack of income is so great, which is a real heart breaker because she’s so smart! She worked for 10 hours a day for a week and a half and never got paid. When she asked for her pay they fired her. Only after her mother got involved did they finally give her some money; 30 BAM or about $20.00. Do you see why tithing is such a hard thing? Given these harsh circumstances, it was not just progress; it was a great showing of faith and testimony. “By the small and simple things….”
Another example: This last month we attended a conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Sarajevo is in the southern half of Bosnia which is not our area. They just recently put a proselyting senior couple in there in anticipation of the church becoming legal soon. The conference was for all the senior couples who are in the “Orphan” countries. Those countries being, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bosnia. These countries are not assigned to any formal mission because the church isn’t a legal entity yet. When we are in Croatia we are assigned to the Slovenia/Croatian Mission, but when we come to Bosnia we are in an "Orphan" country. We had never been to Sarajevo; it is much larger and congested than Banja Luka. I walked every morning we were there, leaving about 5:45 and getting back to the hotel in time for a shower and to meet the others at the appointed time for breakfast. On the last day there, I don’t know why or how, but I got lost, very lost. Really I got so turned around that I felt like I was a rat in a maze! Jim said I forgot all my cub scout training about staying put and hugging a tree, but does that really work in a big city, lot’s of traffic, no phone, no wallet, no telephone numbers if I had a phone? Not a very realistic approach, I think. Anyway, I kept walking thinking that just around the corner I would find something that looked familiar. Not so much. I did find a bus stop, however. There were several people standing at it and I went up to two of the younger women and asked them, “Do either one of you speak English?” Ne. ne….. Then I heard this cute little voice pop up and say, “I speak English, lady”. Ahhhh my hero! A thirteen year old boy who spoke perfect English! I explained my situation and asked him if he would point me in the right direction to get to the new McDonalds, it’s the first one in Bosnia and everyone, even here in Banja Luka has been talking about it, also it was a half a block from our hotel) He said, “Oh no Lady! That’s Waaaaay too far for you to walk to” “Well, I walked here, I’m pretty sure if you just give me directions I can walk back”. “Oh no Lady, you can NOT walk that far, you go on the bus, I will take you.” “But you don’t understand, I left my hotel with no money, I don’t have money for the bus.” “That’s Okay, just get on, they won’t ask for ticket.” “No, I don’t really feel good about that; could you just get me going in the right direction?” “Oh, It’s Okay Lady, I have marks in my pocket, I will pay”. And so after not so much more persuasion, that is what happened, he paid my way onto the bus, got me to McDonalds, pointed me up the street and asked if I could make it Okay from there. What a cutie he was!!! A perfect gentleman! I didn’t even have a paper in my pocket to write his name down! We made it to our meetings for the day with not so much of a breakfast, but in our meetings they read the dedicatory prayer that was given by Elder Nielson about a year ago for this country. He asked that Heavenly Father would bless the servants that came to this land to spread the gospel and gather the blood of Israel that they would be safe and that harm would not come to them. I feel that this prayer was answered on that bright August morning. In the small form of a 13 year old boy, who spoke English, who had a soft place in his heart for a silly old American lady, who had marks in his pocket, who was willing to share those marks, and who knew where McDonalds was in that very busy city of Sarajevo. By the Small and simple things…..