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....


cynphil6 said...

What a happy post! So glad you share ALL of your news. I am so impressed with what you are able to accomplish with the Lord's help. Love to you both!

Crystal said...

That garden looks 100% better than dads! Dad you've got your work cut out for you this spring! :)

Noemi said...

I agree with Crystal. That garden looks like Eden in comparison. I can only imagine how much better it will be next year when they get the "bugs" worked out. :)