Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Books, Toys, Refrigerators, Potato Peeler and Gardens...

It’s been awhile since I posted a blog…so today it’s been a priority. However it is 5:30 P.M. and between getting snow tires on the car, grocery shopping, laundry, and taking the missionaries to lunch and then to a teaching appointment…..hummm here I am toward the end of our preparation day and just starting to think about a blog. We have been pretty busy the last couple of weeks, having closed several projects and opened up about 4 new ones.

I will start with our closing projects.

1. Our little library project in Donji Zabaru in Bosnia. This little village is squeezed in between the Croatian and Serbian borders. So you can imagine how hard they were hit by the homeland war. The little school there was bombed and had to be rebuilt. Which it has, but books have been in short supply and not on a priority list. We were contacted by one of the teachers who invited us to go up to the school; it’s a four hour drive from Banja Luka, and visit. We accepted her invitation and were touched by their need. The students have been sharing curriculum books for their Serbian/Literature classes. We wrote up the project and submitted it to our supervisors in Germany who approved it. We purchased the book s from a vendor in Banja Luka who delivered them to the school. Our closing ceremony was just wonderful! We arrived late because they were clearing land mines along one of the roads we were on and we had to wait for about an hour until the crews were finished or went to take a break. Understandably we were a little rattled. Especially me, I HATE TO BE LATE!!! But the school took it all in stride and what a treat it was for us! They called all the children down from their class rooms to thank us. The teachers, pricnciple and children just made our day! They were all so gratefull! What more could we ask for?  Maybe not driving home in a terrible rain storm, but oh well that comes with the territory. Here are a few of the pictures.

These are the darling students that are going to enjoy the new books!

Each box has about 6 books in them and each color is a different grade. 

I love the smiles on these kids!

 2. The rehabilitation hospital in Banja Luka is a huge facility that does a great and wonderful work. We have just put in another order for the hospital and Banja Luka Red Cross to share a container of wheelchairs. They have both partnered with us before to bring in wheelchairs so this is not a new partnership. As we were arranging for the wheelchair shipment one day they proudly showed us a beautiful space they had created for a waiting/play/occupational therapy room for children. They had received a grant to build the room from a local business, but money had run out and they had not enough funds to fill it with furniture and toys. We wrote up a project to help them complete the room. Waiting rooms for therapy, doctors’ visits, and even emergency trips are just about non-existent in some of the facilities like this one. People just wait in the overcrowded halls until their children are called in. I remember the cozy little rooms with books, toys and even fish tanks that we always waited in when I had children. What a stark difference! It’s to the hospitals credit that they worked so long and hard to turn that standard around! Here are a few pictures of this project.

We gave them this rug and some cars from the "Happy Factory" in Cedar City, Utah. They were a hit!

A play kitchen.
They have a full time person to over see the play area, even though parents are present. She plays with the kids and helps keep order. These chairs are soft and no sharp corners that  prevents any accidents.
Closing ceremony. Jim and I with two of the doctors at the hospital.

3. We have had an end of the year evaluation for our Karlovac Garden project. It was a project that involved members in a little branch just south of our capital city, Zagreb, here in Croatia. It was designed to be ran and implemented by local leadership. So other than going regularly to provide the necessary funds and see the progress, we stood back and let it happen. Here are a few notes of the evaluation meeting that the branch had.

A. 2 families got about 150 kilos of potato

B. Planted and has grown: beans, cucumbers, tomato, onion, hot peppers, watermelon, strawberries, French beans, beets, melon, and carrots

C. Not successful: broccoli, cauliflower, carrot (some), lettuce, corn /lettuce, parsley

Problems: red potato and worms, yellow potato had some black dots; assessed as a potato they eat but would not give to someone

D. Different for the next year: to plant a little earlier than this year (or in the season of planting certain plants), to fill the whole parcel, to save ash gathered during this winter for the spring and planting, to do a little reorganizing of individual garden places - elderly people (2 members) would be right next to the water, first to divide the land among the members and then ask non-members to participate, to do something with the water and pumping so there would always be water there

E. Nothing was stolen or missing (besides few rabbits ;) )

F. Some think of starting their own starting plants, while some plan to buy those

G. Sometime at the end of October 2011 they plan to plow the garden

This is a first of its kind of project in Croatia. We got started pretty late with it this year because the approval process took such a long time. It is a major initiative of the churches humanitarian department, similar to wheelchairs and water projects, so they often take some time to get going. But it’s a three year project and we are excited to see it happen next year. They learned a ton this year and might do a few things differently, but all in all we felt it went pretty well. A few pictures of our last visit to the garden.


4. We have a closing ceremony in Osijek, Croatia tomorrow for a commercial refrigerator that we purchased for them to replace their 30 year old worn out model that gobbles electricity. We bought a beautiful, energy efficient model that will not only give them years of service, but hopefully will save operating costs so that more of their budget can go towards buying the necessary food to distribute to their ever increasing numbers.

5. Here in Varazdin, where we live, we bought a commercial potato peeler for the Caritas (Catholic Relief) Organization. They run a soup kitchen that serves about 350 people a day. We haven’t had a closing ceremony for this one yet, but I think we might wait and do it after we buy the supplemental food that we got approval for today. The church doesn’t usually buy disposable items for our partners, but the need is so great that we asked for a one time allotment of monies to do this for the Red Cross soup kitchen in Banja Luka, Caritas in Banja Luka and the Varazdin Caritas. Shhhhhh..we haven’t told them yet that we got approval.  They will be so excited. Telling our partners that a project has been approved is one of the best parts of our Mission. We hope this will help supplement them over the winter months.
We are glad to see the hot weather ease up a bit, but it seems that we went right from hot summer to the cold of winter! We've broken out the coats, boots, gloves and windshield scraper. They are forcasting a VERY cold winter,,,but our hearts are warm and spirits are up! Love to you all....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Questions and Answers...

  Today I was answering an e-mail from one of my friends, thanks Michele for giving me inspiration, and as I was writing her back, I thought perhaps other people might be interested in some of the same kind of questions. So due to the magic of cut and paste... here are a few questions and my answers. I would love to have a little more interactive blog going here, so if any of you can think of questions, leave them on the comment section or e-mail me. I would love to try to answer them.

I was wondering what you have there for sewing? I know you're a genius with that sort of thing, but I can't imagine sewing machines are readily available? Do families there sew?

We have an ancient dinosaur of a sewing machine that belongs to the humanitarian department. We inherited it from the previous missionaries. So far I've only used it to mend and last Christmas our children sent us a down comforter so I made a duvet cover for it. It's so heavy,(the sewing machine)  that Jim has to carry it to the kitchen table for me, seriously, I think it was made 50 years ago! I keep telling Jim that before we leave we need to get the humanitarian department to flip for a new machine. We have found a shop or two that sell sewing machines, so I know they have them, but most families can't afford them. And fabric availability is another subject all together. They have shops for fabric, but nothing like JoAnns. They're just tiny little shops with VERY expensive fabric, mostly it's curtain or drape fabric, I think that's what most people make. It's interesting to me that they don't sew more, but I think it's not cost effective when you consider the price of fabric and electricity for them. I remember buying sheets to get cheap yardage at a time, but not here, it cost me almost $80.00 to make a duvet cover. I had to look high and low to find two flat sheets big enough for a king size comforter to sew together and when I did, they were $40.00 each! The situation is the same in Bosnia, but I have noticed that the shops there don't carry any notions at all, at least here in Croatia they carry a few. In Bosnia you have to go to an entirely different store that sells notions. Pretty nuts if you ask me. A bright spot in the sewing department, I have found a lady in Bosnia that will do whatever I need done for really pretty cheap. She made button holes and sewed buttons on my duvet cover, did I tell you my machine was old? , for about $5.00.

And what about yarn? Do they knit or crochet?

Wow! that has been one of my hardest hunts! Because we do so much traveling I have decided to knit. It's something I can do in the car. Now at one time I knew how to knit, but pretty much I've had to teach myself again. I found good quality yarn last winter in a little grocery store here in Croatia and made several scarf's for gifts. But when spring came the yarn supply at that store dried up. It's a German owned chain store and I think that's why they had it. There is a shop here in our little town of Varazdin that has yarn, but it's very expensive so I haven't bought yarn there at all. I'm too cheap, I've heard there are good sources in Zagreb but I haven't taken the time to go look. I'm not sure how much the women knit here in Croatia, but in Bosnia they make THE BEST wool slippers you ever want to wear! Our Bosnian translator took us to the market place in the center of Banja Luka and helped us buy some for us and for the missionaries for Christmas presents last year. They really are the warmest, best slippers I have ever worn! You have to wear socks with them because the wool is so scratchy, but wow! on these tile, no carpet floors over here they really have been a life saver. A couple of months ago I was walking and I kept seeing people come out from behind a hedge carrying all sorts of bags with produce in them, so I, being the inquisitve person that I am, proceeded to investigate! What an amazing thing I found! It was the wholesale produce market!!!! So now that I found where to buy cheap produce, I also found a yarn shop for the Bosnian wool. Because we are always trying to find things that will help our Tadic family become more self sufficient, I bought about $15.00 worth of yarn, it was a ton of yarn, and asked the grandma in our family, Nada, if she would start making me slippers to take home for all the kids and grandkids. I am going to pay her as she completes each pair and it will give her a little bit of income. I gave her a list of 37.... that should keep her busy for a while! If you are one of my children or grandchildren reading this, please act surprised when we get home with your gift!
   As far as crocheting, here in Croatia they are famous for their lace making, it's soooo beautiful, but it really isn't crocheting, they make it with very thin thread that they have on little wooden bobbins. The piece of lace is fastened with pins onto a ball like thing that they put in a basket. It really is fascinating...a dying art. Not very many people still do it, but our translator in Croatia is the grand daughter of one of Croatia's most famous lace makers. She has learned how to do it from her grandma. Last Christmas she gave us a small piece and I can't wait to come home and have it framed. This is a 10 minute piece about lace making in Croatia. Our translator, Tihana, is from the secound geographic area called Lepoglava. Her grand mother still lives there.

This piece of lace was made by Tihana. It is worth around $1,000.  I don't even want to think about how many hours went in to the making of it!  This piece is not mine. She was trying to sell it, not sure if she has yet. Any one interested? E-mail me and I will get you in touch with her.

 In Bosnia, the Roma crochet doily's and table runners, they stand at the border where cars are stopped and sell their pieces. They are really pretty nice and I have bought a table runner to bring home.

I loved the part of your blog about the catsup. Do they can peaches? Do they grow apples? Make zucchini bread?

I'm glad that you enjoyed the blog about catsup, we really had a great day making it and sure are enjoying the eating of it! Locally grown produce includes apples, potatoes, cabbage, lot's of peppers, onions, tomatoes, and berries in season. They do grow watermelons and almost anything that we would grow in our climate in Utah. I have not seen too many peaches, but our catsup making friends gave us some wonderful peach jam, so they must have them. We have seen some zucchini, but not a lot which makes me wonder if they ship them in from Greece. They sell cabbage, peppers, potatoes and onions at the markets in huge net bags. I wondered what any one would do with that much cabbage, but found out that they put it in huge containers and make sour cabbage, we would use it cut up to make sour crout, but they make sour cabbage leaves to make their traditional Sarma dish. It's like a cabbage roll made with rice, pork, beef or in the southern part of Bosnia where most the population is Muslim they make it out of lamb. Sarma recipe
   Bread is varied and amazingly wonderful here. I can't tell you that I've seen much sweet breads like banana or zucchini bread. They don't eat a ton of sweet things like we do. Even the beautiful pastries that we see in the bakery windows aren't really very sweet. They are a little disappointing to my taste buds, so it's easy to look the other way. But ohhhh the bread! Really my down fall!
I love the story of the pig project. Do they have chickens too?

The pig project is moving along. A little slow, but the pig barn is being built and we hope it will improve the life of the Tadic family. No they don't have chickens. They used to have a pretty going concern, having chickens in their yard by their house, selling eggs and doing pretty well at it, but one of their neighbors complained and the city made them stop. Their piece of property is about 3 miles away from their house which makes it hard to take care of chickens clear up there and I think they got a little burned by it all. When Yugoslavia broke up and communism was no more, every thing that was state owned at the time became privatized. The little piece of property that they farm was given to Grandpa by the government. They grow tomatoes, potatoes, onions, apples, cabbage and pigs! They can tomatoes, mostly sauce, and juice. Also they bottle grape and apple juice. Their canning jars are much different than ours. Where we have a two part lid and ring system, they have only a lid. I don't see them doing anything that needs processing, perhaps that's why. None of the stores have jars or lids like we have at home.
Two of my girls are taking classes in American Sign Language (ASL). Do you know anything about how the deaf people communicate there? I know there are a couple different sign languages, but I don't know what is used where.

That's a really good question. We have not seen anything in either country as far as as the deaf. That would be a good project....we'll look into it.