Tuesday, April 18, 2017

YWAM Europe United | Family without borders

Last year in March we, the YWAM Europe leadership, started talking and dreaming about a huge YWAM Europe gathering along the theme of "Family without borders". The last big meeting was in 2007, so it was time. We were pretty certain it was supposed to happen in Albania, where we had hotels ready to give us a great deal (as it is off season), but there was no place for loads of people to meet - so the idea of the tent on the beach (which is owned by the hotels) was born... and it became a reality!
And 750 people from the YWAM Europe Family came along to make it all happen: I had the privilege of being one of the MC's for the first night, and actually started the whole shebang off!! If I had been clever, I would have got a photo of that - but you will have to make do with the crowd instead:
We spent 3 days meeting in the mornings and evenings and having afternoons "off" to gather in smaller groups. The downside of having so many people meant the meal queues (even with 3 places to line up) were pretty long - but I had some of my best catch-up/getting-to-know-you conversations in those lines, so it wasn't too bad.
In the afternoons, we had time to meet in smaller groups, or be a part of the many workshops or seminars that were offered. Central Europe had a meeting on one afternoon - and of course I don't have a picture of that. The 120 people from our area got together to share what is going on in our area - especially as we are going through a leadership transition... It was a great time of just being in the smaller family :)

The last afternoon they also offered us an outing to a Roman amphitheatre - and a place where Paul could have possibly preached!
All week I roomed with 3 others, including my good friend Belinda, and here we are at the amphitheatre with our matching T-shirts (which is the logo for her shop in Ireland, "Good Craic"), We figure if we room together, we at least get to catch up in the mornings and evenings in the room - otherwise it is pretty hit and miss how much we see each other as there are so many people who we want to see!
 There was also a chance to meet up with people that we normally work with virtually - here is the Communication Team for Central Europe (along with some new recruits!) which I lead. Great bunch of people!
And then it was all over and time for the tent to come down... it was easier taking it down than putting it up, but not by much - as they had to figure out ways to fold it all up without getting sand in it! Luckily there were a LOT of willing hands to help...
 After the conference the leaders for Central Europe had meetings for two days - it was a good time of catching up and also for Yohanan (third from left) to pass on the baton to me and Florin (second from right) as the new leaders for this area. We also enjoyed the fancy place to meet - in the wedding hall up on the 6th floor!
Where you can get pictures of the sunset like this one... (the pics from the beach weren't bad either!)
Then it was time to say good bye and head back to Bosnia, after a great week at the beach with my "family"!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Book Club

We started the Book Club back up a month ago - and we had visits from two actors from the Children's Theatre who helped us have a great time:
We have carried on with our weekly visits - either at the library or here at the home. Our volunteers really love working with the kids each week! It is also great to see that there are lot of kids who have come through the book club and are too old for it now, but they want us to get books for them from the library each time we go... I love it!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Mini day-camp

On Saturday, 40 kids, 15 moms and 20 volunteers gathered together to have a fun mini-camp with the kids from our Sponsorship project and their moms. We started altogether and played one of my favourite games of all time - "Captain coming" and the kids loooooved it. We then divided into two groups... (there were supposed to be 3, but I had come down with a temperature the day before and felt horrible. Although I could help out, I felt I couldn't have 3 groups of high energy English classes to run. It mostly worked out ok despite the bigger groups of kids!

The one group did craft activities on an Easter theme:

The other group did a workshop on family and what it means to us. Many of the kids come from big families or single-parent homes, and so it was good to look at the different forms of family and how being from a "different" family isn't wrong, it is just different. 
The kids rotated between the two groups and had a snack time in between. The Moms were upstairs and had two activities: first Gaga did a presentation on organisation of free time activities for their children, which was very well received. She also explained about Brain gym. This is a form of exercise which helps to develop children's brains through physical activity (which you will see more on later!)
 And then Dijana led a decoupage workshop, which they loved!
We also stuck with the Easter theme, and did eggs!
The last 45 minutes we spent altogether downstairs. Gaga led a series of activities for the kids based on "Brain gym". We also had the Moms there so they could see what it involved!
 As you can see it is actually a LOT of fun!
To end off the Easter theme, we watched some videos showing exactly what happened on Easter.
And Ljilja closed us off by asking the kids if they understood what went on in the videos... and they did!
As you can see, it was a great day (despite me being under-the-weather) and we had a LOT of fun! We also had a LOT of help from volunteers - some of them older kids in the project, others who work with us in the Children's Home. It wouldn't have been possible to organise this without their help! We and the kids (and the moms!) are truly thankful that we do have such wonderful people who will give up their Saturdays to come and spend time helping out.

And it was good to be reminded of the true meaning of Easter: Hristos Vaskrse. Vaistinu Vaskrse! (Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed!)

Friday, March 31, 2017

European Leadership meetings

YWAM in Europe is made up of different areas, and I am one of the leaders for the Central European area. This is made up of 16 different countries from Poland to Greece and Czech to Moldova. It is a real privilege to help lead the 250 people in YWAM in my area.

This week, I went to England to get together with the different area leaders from all over Europe. We had 2 intense days of meeting together and praying for Europe, and it was a real privilege to be a part of this great group of people:
It wasn't all work and no play - we did have time to hang out and get to know each other better, and catch up with what is going on in our lives. We worked out that amongst the 14 of us, we actually came from 13 different countries* - a real YWAM bunch of leaders!

(*and if you count Scotland and England separately, then 14!)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It's time for Slovenia

I got back to Bosnia from South Africa, and about a week later went to Ljubljana (about 4 hours drive away) for a mini-gathering of people from all over YWAM Europe. There were 22 adults (and 7 kids) from 12 different nations who came together to see how we could start something in YWAM in this nation. It was 2 days of praying for the nation and the people who are already working there in different organisations and also trying to see what and how we can work there in the future.

As part of my leadership role in YWAM Central Europe, I was part of the team who was organising the event - and it was such a privilege to work together with people from YWAM Grimerud in Norway, YWAM Amsterdam in Holland, and Andreja, the only known Slovenian YWAMer... Here we are: Andreas and Geir Edvin from Norway, Andreja, me, and Reinier from Holland.
There was a media team from YWAM Amsterdam who came specifically to make videos to promote the idea of YWAM in Slovenia. Here is one of their videos:

I am so glad that I could be a part of this event which included our former European Director, Jeff Fountain "just happening" to be there at the same time to promote his book about Europe's Christian roots, which had been translated into Slovenian. A highlight for me was singing together with everyone in the Ljubljana City Hall (you can see a clip in the video) - the acoustics were amazing, and our worship sounded so good, some of the locals and tourists started videoing us as well!

We clearly saw that it is time for Slovenia!!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bosnian Evening 2017

When I am in South Africa, I like to share a little bit of Bosnian food and culture (and talk a bit about what I am doing there) and this year was no different! On the 18th of February, we held the 9th Bosnian evening at my home church, Claremont Methodist.

This year I decided to make "Ćevapi"  (pronounced "chevapi")... They are skinless sausages and in Bosnia you just get them in a restaurant or buy them at the butcher to fry yourself, so making them from scratch was a bit of a challenge, but the Bosnians that came along to the evening said they were amazing! (so I obviously got it right!).

There was a great turnout of people: My official photographer, Keren, did a great job and got pictures of all of the tables so you can see them all. It was a mixture of church members, old friends, family and as I have already mentioned, Bosnians that live in Cape Town.

To kick off the evening, we had a great "sampler" plated by our great kitchen team: The little pita breads filled with ćevapi and šopska salad (made by my friend Kristi and I the day before). They did get more ćevapi later on!
I mixed the ćevapi meat mixture over two days to make sure it was all mixed well and the flavours blended together and then I spent the Saturday morning rolling the ćevapi with the aid of a ziplock bag like in this video... They were ably cooked on the night by my chefs Dave and Nils and yes, there were a lot, I may have over-catered! (or actually been a typical Bosnian, haha)
 Pat also helped cook, but I didn't get a pic of him, so here he is with his ultra-cute daughter Rose:
 Rose (pictured here with her mom, Tina) also enjoyed looking at all of my photo books:
As did other people, including my cousin's children (well at least one of them did!)
After eating our fill, it was time for me to do some sharing of what I do in Bosnia Herzegovina:
After the presentation, we all learnt to sing a song in Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (it is "What a mighty God we serve"). It isn't often that you can learn to sing in 3 languages :)
Then it was time for the kitchen team (aka Mom and her Home group - thanks guys!) to swing into action for the desserts (all made by people from my church!!)
There are actually only two recipes represented here, but everyone made them a little differently :) And they were all YUMMY!!
Before the end of the evening, we had the Quiz, which was great fun. I didn't get a pic of the winning team (there were actually 4 who got all the questions right - I may have made the quiz a little easy! - so we had to do a tie-breaker question). I did get a pic of all the people who were there who are in my support group: They get together and pray for me once a month - there are a few people who are missing, and I am really blessed by all of them!!
As you can see it was a great evening and everyone had a wonderful time :) Thanks to everyone who made this evening possible!! 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

6 weeks in South Africa...3 to go!

I have been in South Africa since the 1st of January, catching up with my family and friends here. I arrived with my friends Ljilja (from Bosnia Herzegovina) and Sina (from Finland). We had a great 3 weeks while they were here. Here we are joining the "Awesome Aunties" (my mom, Sue, aunt Janny and my mom's best friend, Lee).
We all went out for dinner before enjoying my high school friend's great comedy show: Here we are afterwards with him: I love seeing him perform!
My sister was also still around, so we got to spend some time with her and her family. Here we are celebrating Serbian Christmas eve before they left:
 We went to fun places, like the Milnerton Fleamarket :)
 The views from Milnerton of Table Mountain are really stunning!
We took a red topless bus tour of Cape Town and it was great fun!
 We also enjoyed a walking tour of the Bo-Kaap:
We went around Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, including going up on the tree canopy "Boomslang", with stunning views of Cape Town:
Before heading to a concert in the natural amphitheatre there. It is such a lovely venue! And the music was very good!
We did see some wild animals: here are the lesser known Sina and Ljilja-beasts surrounded by penguins at Boulders beach:)
 Also at Boulders, Mom lost her banana to this little thief: the rock rabbit or "dassie" was pretty sweet, but we didn't dare try to get the banana back from him!
After a whirlwind two weeks in Cape Town, it was time to head to see the Garden route - we did 1800km in 5 days, but it really was a lovely trip! We decided to go down route 62 - the inland route (and return along the coast) and it was a great decision...
We stopped off near Barrydale at Ronnies sex shop, which is not a sex shop but a bar/cafe!
 Ljilja channeled her inner farmer:
 And this is just a taste of some of the stunning scenery along the way:
It is very beautiful!
There were all little towns along the way with funky places to eat - and we managed to resist until Kareedouw and the Sweaty Dutchman... the pancakes were delicious!!
We made it to Addo Elephant park and it lived up to its name - we did see a lot of Elephants, including this little one with its mum - so cute!
We also spent a long time looking at two cheetahs eating the zebra that they had killed and the warthogs that were trying desperately to get a look in... but the cheetahs were having none of it! It really was so special to see the whole circle of life happening in real life!
On the way back from Addo, we stopped off in a place called Monkeyland which is a sanctuary for 11 different types of monkeys - all kept outside in a fenced in area where they can live as naturally as possible. They are pretty cute, especially the babies:
We also stopped off in the beautiful Knysna:
And Wilderness beach - both of these showing why it is called the "Garden Route" - everything is very green because of year round rain: It is so beautiful!
And here are some of the paragliders which were above the Wilderness Beach.
There is a drought on in the rest of the Western Cape, there has been very little rain, and you can definitely see it on the National Road: this part is usually green too!
Then it was time to say goodbye to the girls and enjoy the rest of my stay in Cape Town... Getting to hang out with good friends: here having a braai (barbecue) with the group of people who pray for me once a month:
The kids (and some others!) enjoying the pool:
Enjoying a birthday dinner of my friend Sarah:
Mom and I organised to have a family reunion for part of my dad's side of the family. Here I am with some second cousins:
 And here we all are: 35 of us altogether. It was great to see everyone again!
Mom and I try to go once a week to the beach... We normally go to St James and now the school holidays are over it is pretty quiet:
This is what it looked like when Ljilja and Sina were here with us...
I also managed to play live scrabble with my friend Nils (I have been playing almost 25 years - now we usually play on Facebook).
And I went to the library and took a lot of books out to read! YAY! I love reading and having access to a library is so amazing!!
But it isn't all play and no work - I am still in touch with things in Europe by email and Skype. I am involved in things in my church - including preaching in both services today. And this week I will be organising a Bosnian evening... looking forward to it!
I hope you enjoyed a look at my 6 weeks in South Africa. In just over 3, I will be heading back to Bosnia and Herzegovina... It goes so fast!! 
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