Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where did November go?

Where did November go? It seems like it just flew by, I looked at my blog this morning and saw that it had been a month since I had updated it. Wow! How did that happen?

This morning we woke up early and actually got out of the house and on the road by 8:11. Bed made, check. Garbage taken out, check. Heat turned off, check. Bags packed, nothing forgotten we hope, check. Refrigerator contents that won’t keep until we get back either put into the freezer or our little cooler check. Hot water turned down, check. Prayers said, check. Drag everything out to the car, check. On the road, only 11 minutes late! We had a 9:00 appointment with our friend and translator  Predrag, in Gradiska, the little border town on the way to Croatia. After we talked with him for awhile we got through both borders with little or no waiting and zipped on through to Zagreb. Stopping at the mission office to get reimbursements and mail for the elders then we are back on the road to Varazdin. Yep, that’s pretty much the routine. And then we do it all over again on Wed. or Thursday of each week. Before we came we bought these nice little roller take on luggage pieces. Never in a million years did we realize how important they would be to us, and I dare say they will be toast by the time we get home! Have any of you seen the pictures of two missionaries kneeling for prayers and their shoes are all worn through…..well, I think that’s how our carry on’s will look when we arrive home.

I have to admit, it’s a little hectic. But Sunday night when we went to bed, we both just looked at each other and said, “Wow, what an awesome week! How could it get any better?” For starters, we visited the Red Cross and just thrilled the director by giving her funds for supplemental food during the holiday season. We also made arrangements with the Banja Luka Caritas to do the same. We already had given the Varazdin Caritas organization supplemental funds along with a commercial potato peeler. Santa looks like two old people with name tags on here in Croatia. They were sooo happy, news media, hugs and handshakes all around! It was a good day! Usually the humanitarian department frowns on doing projects that are not sustainable, so giving money for food was just a onetime donation to help them get through the holiday season. For some that come to these soup kitchens, it is the only meal for the day.

We also spent time painting and repairing the apartment that is on the main floor of our house in Banja Luka. We got the kitchen all clean and the front entryway painted. I wanted to do it in a color, of course, but Jim insisted that it isn’t my house so it should be boring white. As mundane as that is, it does look vastly improved. We haven’t heard anything on getting the church registered and legal yet, but are going by the motto, “If you build it, they will come”! We are so looking forward to having the young missionaries opening up the country, with their language skills they will be such an asset to our little group/branch there. Our worry is that leadership will call one day and say, “Oh, by the way, we are sending missionaries down at the end of the week”. And then it will be a mad scramble to get the apartment ready for them. So we are trying to get ahead of the game a little bit.

We had visitors this week-end. Elder and Sister Taylor came to attend our seminary class on Saturday night and stayed for meetings on Sunday. It was so fun to have them! The Tadic’s love seeing other people beside us, they are senior missionaries that have a Church Education assignment over seminary and institutes. They are perfect for the job. More patient, kind and genuinely loving people you will never know! We can’t wait to get them to come back again!

We have a new investigator in Banja Luka. He is a 33 year old single guy that  got on the internet and asked to be contacted. We went to his home and gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to our meetings. His car is down and he is waiting for parts for it, so he walks to church, about 5 miles every week. He comes an hour early for church so he can get the missionary lessons. This week, Jim challenged him to baptism and he accepted. He needs to get a firm testimony but says that when he does that defiantly would be baptized. He would be a great asset to the church here in Bosnia. I can see him as a branch president. “The dawning of a new day”; that is what is going on over here. The dreams and visions we have for the church here in Bosnia are nothing compared what The Lord’s vision is, but it’s a start.

We are blessed beyond measure to be here and be a part of this great work. Our gratitude to those who love and support us in this endeavor is overflowing. November, as busy as it was, left us humbled by all the blessings that constantly come our way. We feel your prayers and sincerely appreciate every one of them!

We often have visitors at church, This is the Tadic Family with Elder and Sister Wondra. The gentleman on the far left is a native Banja Luka man who left Bosnia during the war and went to Canada with his family. His mother still lives here and he was visiting her. His desire is to come back someday and help the church grow here. He talked in our sacrament meeting and they all just loved hearing a native speaker talk to them about the church and his conversion story.
(We had no idea what he said until a day or two later when Vicky told us his story)

We closed a project for a soup kitchen in Eastern Croatia, an area hit extreamly hard by the war and struggling to recover. We replaced a 35 year old fridge with this new beauty! They were so thrilled! This is the head cook and you just couldn't wipe the smile off her face! It took 5 men about an hour to get this into place. It was a pretty tight squeeze in this basment kitchen with overhead heat ducts and corners to turn. Hope they don't ever have to move!

We also replaced the burners on the soup kettle on the right. They had not been able to use it for quite awhile because of lack of funds to get the repairs done. This kitchen feeds about 250 people a day with 50 meals being delivered to shut-in's. If you do the math and calculate that this equipment will last for a minimum of 5 years. Well....that's a lot of meals for the people in Croatia! I so wish you all could be here to see where your humanitarian dollars are going!

We bought the Caritas Organization a new potato peeler for their soup kitchen. One of the cooks gave us a demonstration. The potatoes go in....and about three minutes later. ....

Here they come...all peeled and ready for soup!  Potatoes are a big crop here and the soup kitchen gets a lot of donations from the local population to use in the kitchen. You can imagin how long  it took the cooks to peel them, even with the ancient potato peeler that this replaced  they where coming in at the wee hours of the morning to get the job done. Now they will have things a little easier.

You didn't know that peeled potatoes were that exciting, did you?

We also bought meat for the soup kitchen to give them a little something extra for holiday meals. The butcher gave us a good deal. I always love deals!


cynphil6 said...

YAY! I love to read your blog!
What happy stories.

Robin said...

Hey Deb! It's so exciting to see how the Lord's plan works so perfectly, and how he uses such special people like you and Jim to help share the gospel through sacrifice and example.