Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Providing food for the poor.

Year End Projects..

L.D.S. Charities provided enough money for each family to receive a bag of staples for Christmas.
The Red Cross chose what to put in the bags. Oil, rice, pasta, sugar, milk, hotdogs, and coffee. They made 400 packages like this and distributed them at two locations in the city.

This is the director of the Red Cross. She told us that because the price of milk had gone up so high, many of the people haven't had milk for a long time. This is one reason we depend on local partners. They understand the needs of the people they serve. We never would have thought to put milk in the Christmas packages. Or coffee.

This is a project that has been in the works for quite some time. We put in a wheelchair order in the fall for the Red Cross. 250 wheelchairs are on their way, but the Red Cross building is not handicap accessible. Soooo, we built into the cost of the project enough money to have a ramp built. If any building in the city should have a ramp, you would think access to the Red Cross would be a priority. Now they will be able to fit the wheelchairs to the recipients IN the building and not in the parking lot.

This was a project that we did with the Caritas organization in Banja Luka.

Caritas is the Relief organization for the Catholic Church here in Europe.
We went with the directors assistant to the grocery store and paid for the goods, the store manager was so pleased to meet us, evidently they don't get too many people that come in from
America and buy such large quantities of food to give away. Delivery was free!
This what we bought that day at the store. 3,000 kg of flour, 240 kg sugar, 240 liters of oil, 120 kg salt, 120 kg rice,
 and 144 kg pasta.. 

It  made enough for 120 food boxes for the poor that come to the Caritas soup kitchen.

The Caritas organizations choose to put more into each gift box and do fewer boxes. It was so appreciated! They gave us a beautiful thank-you note that had been meticulously translated into English. We came home after visiting these two organizations and both expressed how humbled we felt, how blessed we were and how very grateful we are to be a part of this amazing work. To know that people had just a little extra in their pantries this Christmas, or that they might not go hungry on at least this one day, well, it certainly gave us a reason to quit being babies about being away from home this Christmas and to ponder a little more the true meaning and significance of that day.

The third soup kitchen we worked with was the Caritas soup kitchen in Varazdin, Croatia. they chose to buy meat with the money we provided them to add a little more nutrition into their usually meatless soups. We went to the butcher, who gave us a great deal, and bought the meat. They serve over 300 meals a day to many who depend on them for their only meal of the day.


    Christmas Eve, Saturday afternoon/evening, we had our Sacrament Meeting in Banja Luka with our little branch. I'm sorry to say that I didn't get very many pictures and the ones we did get were not great, but I will post what I have.  It was an absolutely wonderful day. The Tadic girls came over and helped me cook, turkey from Slovenia, (Elder and Sister Taylor gave it to us), mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, salad, pies and boiled custard. Our landlord and his wife both came to our meeting and stayed for dinner, along with all of the Tadic family and our investigator, Goran. So including Jim and I we had 15 people in attendance. My favorite memory of the day was our meeting. We tried to plan something special, the kids all practiced and practiced their musical numbers and sang just like a choir of angels. "The Stars are Gleaming" and "Away in a Manger".  Vedran our 14 year old boy sang the echo part in "Away in a Manger" and was just adorable!  Our two translators sang, "Picture a Christmas, Vickie had worked hard to translate it into Serbian and it was also amazing. Vickie and Maja took turns translating the video "Joy to the World" and Mika gave a wonderful talk about how Mary must have felt becoming a mother of the Christ child. It was one of those meetings where we were just so proud of all of them because they really did it themselves. Someday they will be the leaders of this branch and they certainly showed their abilities on Christmas Eve. But most important was the spirit that they brought with them, they are truly amazing people.

Mika (the mother of the Tadic family) and our landlords. It was fun to have them come to our meetings and then stay for dinner.

Mika with her beautiful smile!

We don't usually wear our badges when we are in Bosnia, (because the church is not legal yet) but I had put mine on because as soon as we cleaned up we were out the door and on our way to Croatia and I was afraid I would leave it sitting on the counter. We had an interesting experience on our way back to Croatia that night. It was late before we got going, Christmas Eve and the border station was pretty dead. We zipped right through on the Bosnia side and only waited a couple of minutes on the Croatia side to check our passports. As we stopped at the customs booth the usual questions were asked, anything to declare? Cigarettes, Alcohol? Jim said no, we don't smoke or drink, I think the customs guard was a little bored because he asked us another question which they don't usually ask, "what are you doing here in Croatia?" I'm sure it was strange, having two American old people going into Croatia on Christmas Eve. Jim explained that we were humanitarian missionaries assigned as country directors to both Croatia and Northern Bosnia. We bring in wheelchairs, help supply clean water and do area projects in both countries. He got a little emotional and said, "Thank-you, thank-you for being here for our people! Have a Merry Christmas!" Then he leaned all the way out of his little booth so he could shake Jim’s hand. What a gift he gave us! We are so blessed. I will never forget this Christmas Eve and the grateful heart that touched ours.

This is why we made this trip back to Croatia on Christmas Eve. We spent the day with the Young Elders so they could Skype their parents on our computer and have a day with a little something that was familiar to them. Elder Marks was the only one of us that got a package through on time for Christmas, so we watched him open it . I also fixed another dinner so pretty much I spent the whole holiday cooking....hummmm sounds like home doesn't it?

Our package from home came on January 3rd, at first we thought that it hadn't been opened by customs because all of the papers on top hadn't been broken, but when I went to throw the box away I realized that it had been opened from the bottom and retaped with the blue customs tape. We didn't have any custom charges though, so that was good.

I knew immediately what I had when I saw this mailing label! Hurry Jim! Let's get home!!!!
Then I got a little sick when I saw how much it cost to mail the package, not to mention what was inside!

Ahhhh! a Kindle! We are so excited to have an e-reader! It was soooo worth the wait !  We sure have great kids! They also sent See's chocolate, really did a number on my diet, peanut butter, sweaters and socks for Jim and tons of Splenda, diet pudding, sugar free jello, Crystal light  along with ingredients to make more monster cookies for the Tadic kids! Does anyone see the irony in all this????   See's chocolate and Splenda in the same box? I have to wonder! A little note about my Kindle,  my children have created a Kindle monster, I stayed up most the night last Sunday reading, I finished the book I was reading, but I think I broke a few missionary rules. Self control is the goal for the new year, diet and missionary rules! Sleep is good, but highly over rated. Thanks kids for a wonderful little bit of love from home!


No comments: