Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leadership from Germany visits....

   Every so often we get a visit from someone that really gives us pause to remember that we do have leadership in Germany that really cares about us and what we do here. Last week was one of those times. We had our supervisors, Elder and Sister Leonard come to meet us and spend some time getting to know not only us but our countries as well. The Leonards came into Germany in July and have had the enormous job of supervising 10 European countries. Sister Leonard said it has been a hugh learning curve and I believe it! I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been to learn all the computer programs, direct the financial affairs and keep track of 10 sets of senior couples roaming all over the European continent. They have spent the last 6 months traveling when they could, to individually meet or humanitarian counter parts in the different countries and getting to know their new "children", that would be us. We are one of the last countries that they needed to visit.

We took advantage of having them here by scheduling a closing ceremony for our water project and for our container of new born/hygiene kits and blankets. We had the ceremony in Varazdin which was nice for us because we didn't have any travel involved. We had a ton of press and then the Red Cross took us out to lunch. All in all it was a lovely day and a perfect ending to those projects. And we were so happy to be able to share it with the Leonards.

We left Croatia the next day and brought them to Bosnia, we met with both the Red Cross and The big Rehabilitation Hospital here in Banja Luka. Wheelchairs and wheelchair training was the topic of our conversations with them. We just got a container of wheelchairs into the country for these two organizations and in March we are going to have physical therapists come here to train those who are going to dispense the wheelchairs how to fit them properly. The church wants to make sure the chairs don't do more harm than good with an improper fit. Once the organization has been trained, we will be able to bring more wheelchairs into them as needed. The days of giving out a wheelchair without a proper fitting are hopefully in the past.

We had a wonderful weekend, introducing the Tadic family to the Leonards and showing off our amazing meeting room. They also graciously consented to speak in church, thereby giving our little family a break from Jim and I. They did a great job! Our Tadic family loved them. Monday, we took them back to Croatia to catch a plane back to Germany and said, "Good-bye" with a new appreciation for all that our wonderful leadership do for us.

If there was any doubt that I am on a picture taking mission, I hurriedly snapped this picture before we even said Hello!

Elder Leonard officially giving the "letter of donation" to the head of the Red Cross, Tihana is our translator and really got a work out that day. We appreciate her soooo much!

This is after all the remarks. We presented a mother to be with a blanket and a new born kit. The Red Cross will distribute the container to those who need it the most.

He is explaining to the press what was in the container. Elder Leonard and I both made remarks to the press.
You might ask what it is that we say during a press conference,  everytime it's something differernt, but this is a good example of what we try to express in our remarks. I usually do the press interviews, It's Jims effort to make me feel important I think and our partners are usually surprized that it's me that will speak.

"We are so excited to be here today to celebrate with our partners, The Red Cross, two humanitarian projects that we have been working on for some time. The first one is clean water. The World Health Organization estimates that around the world there are 884 million people without access to clean water for themselves or for their animals. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is committed to make a difference in that number. We have had a commitment to the people of Croatia to help them achieve that goal for clean water. I remember a story about a man on a beach hurriedly picking up star fish and throwing them back into the ocean after a high tide had left thousands on the beach to die. Someone asked him, “Why are you doing that? You cannot really make a difference and then, the man answered, “NO, But to this one, it matters, and he threw a starfish back into the ocean.” We are like that man on the beach, we cannot possibly fix the worlds clean water problems, but here in Croatia, one by one, the wells are being cleaned out by the brave men employed by the Red Cross. We appreciate and applaud their dedication to this project, their diligence in administering to the needs of the people here in Croatia.

The second project we celebrate today is the bringing into country a container of new born kits, hygiene kits, and blankets. These will be distributed by The Red Cross in emergency situations and to parents in need all around Croatia. The scientist, Lousie Pasture said, ~When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is, and respect for what he may become~

We as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints have those same feelings…Tenderness for the new born and for the miracle of new life…for what that child is, truly a child of God, we also respect what he may become…Your children here in Croatia are your greatest asset! They are your future and we are proud to be able to help supply them with needed items at the time of their birth.

The humanitarian funds from our church do not come from rich Americans; they come from members 14 million strong, from all over the world. They donate time, money and supplies freely each month that they may follow the admonition of our Savior. “When ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”.

We are privileged and humbled to be here in your wonderful country and see that these sacred monies are spent with care, hopefully to make a difference to “The One”.

And to not just be good,

Because good is not enough. We want to be good “for something”. Gordon B. Hinkley. We feel we must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for our presence. We again thank the Red Cross for helping us make this possible. Thank-You"

We are back to our regular routine, we came to Bosnia today and will take our seminary students to Zagreb on Saturday to a Seminary Super Saturday. We made calenders the other day and it's getting hard to think about going home. As much as we miss our families, leaving here will be bitter sweet.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Walking Path in Croatia

We have a beautiful walking path near our apartment in Varazdin, Croatia. I've had a goal to get a picture of it for each one of the seasons so you can see how beautiful it is. I finally went out this week and obtained my "winter" picture. It was still pretty cold, but the trees had dropped their snow and I was a little disapointed in that, but you get the idea.





These ball things just captivated us last winter, we asked everyone we knew what they were and no one knew until we had some short term specialists from the U.S. come over and told us that is was mistletoe. I guess it's a parasite to trees but it sure makes them look beautiful in the winter, it's usually the only green you see!

My friends

After we walk through the forest path for awhile it opens up to a walk way along a lovely river, I usually count the swans that are there and on this particular day in November I counted 23. So I decided in honor of my 23 swans I would count my blessings on the way home. One for each swan, I had a lovely walk the rest of the way, and counted way more than 23 blessings!

Meet Vedran, he is our 14 year old Aaronic Priesthood Young Man.

He takes his responsibilities so seriously and does a tremendous job. He's kind-of like a one man show, does the job of the deacons, and teacher, never misses a beat! He's always early to set it up and stays to make sure it's cleaned up. Jim never has to worry about the sacrament. Vedran has 5 sisters and he's the only boy, he is the sparkle in all of his sisters’ lives. They absolutely adore him!

Who wouldn’t? What's not to love?

     The mind numbing cold has been the story of the week here in Eastern Europe. Everyone is struggling with the terrible cold and snow. I think the low in Banja Luka this week was -25. We came from Croatia on Thursday and our house was almost impossible to get warm. We figured it out the next morning when we woke up. We had run out of heating oil! No kidding, I thought I would freeze to death! I decided to stay in bed wrapped up in my down comforter and heavy quilt while the hot water recovered after Jim's shower. About 2 hours later Jim came up and said, hey, we have to be out of here in 30 minutes. I ventured out, locked myself in the bathroom and turned the water on. The outside room temp. Was so cold that the hot water made a steam room! At least it was warm enough for me to get dressed and ready to go. We went to the Red Cross and made arrangement with them to receive church funds for emergency relief to the people stranded without food or heat in the small villages surrounding Banja Luka. They will make up food boxes and snow cat or air lift them into those who are so affected by this terrible weather. We also met with an Islamic group to see what we could do to help them serve the Islamic community here in Banja Luka. We are going to develop a project with them in the near future.

I came home and got back into my bed with the added layer of my winter coat. I fell asleep while reading and woke up an hour or so later with my feet like rocks of ice! Even under my covers they were freezing! They didn't have the extra layer of my coat on them. We finally got heating oil delivered and by bedtime the house was up to 56 degrees, so we slept toasty and warm with two pair of long underwear on, one down comforter, one heavy blanket, and heavy socks. Today I know I have heat enough in the house, but I still feel cold. Just a throwback to yesterday!

Jim took me out to eat last night for my birthday and we sat by this huge fireplace that was so wonderful! The food was amazing and it was a very special outing, but the warmth will be my lasting memory of my evening out.

Don't worry about me, I'm just really a baby when it comes to cold, my friends in Las Vegas will tell you it's true. I think I'm the only person down there that carries a sweater or a sweat shirt with me all summer long just in case the air conditioning gets too cold!

This next week we will finally get to meet our supervisors from Germany face to face. They are coming on Weds. and will be with us until the following Monday. We are really looking forward to spending some time getting to know them. We have Skyped with them, talked and e-mailed many times and feel like we know them, but it will be wonderful to have them here in Croatia and Bosnia with us for almost a week. I hope the weather improves a little for them!

Another news flash is that we have officially been put into the Adriatic North Mission! Bosnia is no longer and orphan country without a mission! We believe that the process to open the country up to missionaries will soon be a reality! Assigning us to a mission is the first step! Ohhhh! Prayers are being answered and we are sooooo unbelievably happy! Over and out with all our love....