Monday, October 24, 2016

European Leadership Gathering in Armenia

About 70 of us from across Europe gathered in the little country of Armenia for our Europe leadership meetings. I went a day early to help with setup and I am so glad I did as we spent about an hour sight-seeing and got to see the magnificent Mount Ararat: (and then it was cloudy for the rest of the week, so all the other people who came didn't get to see it at all!)
That picture was taken from the top of the "Cascades" which are pretty amazing. There are art galleries inside on every level...
And art installations on the outside on every level:
Including this magnificent lion made from recycled tyres:
It was a privilege to be able to enjoy some of the sights on that first day as the rest of the week was pretty busy for us all, but especially for those of us in the organising team :)

We met altogether in plenary sessions during the day. Here is Al Akimoff sharing some stories with us - he has been working in the Central/Eastern European region for over 40 years!
In the afternoons we met in our "regions" (Western, Central, Northern and Eastern), so I was with the guys from the Central European region. There were 8 of us and on the first night after our meeting ended we went out for dinner in a traditional restaurant: 
 And enjoyed some lovely Armenian music:

Including this flute player who played two flutes at the same time WITH HIS NOSE :)
We had some lovely food, which I forgot to take a picture of: I ordered lemonade (and a lot of others followed my lead... to their dismay!) and got some lovely bright green tarragon drink: my one colleague said it tasted like sweet beef stew :) Definitely an acquired taste which I didn't have time to acquire... but the food was really good, so couldn't complain!
Then it was time to divide the bill... you try and figure out what you had! Luckily we mostly remembered the prices of what we got! Armenian's lettering is unique as it was specially made to be able to translate the Bible. During the Soviet Union they would teach the children "God doesn't exist, but He gave us our alphabet" :) 
We were in meetings for most of the day all week, but one afternoon we were taken on a wonderful outing to see Mithras' temple: Here is Andrej, one of the leaders in Armenia, sharing with us about the temple. He helped organise the whole conference and it was such fun working with him.
And we also went to a 4th Century Monastery (yes, the 4th century - the Armenian church was founded in 314 and was the first country to have Christianity as its official religion) which was cut out of a cave. The acoustics were amazing, but it didn't make for good photos inside... I did get some photos of the crosses:
Which get more intricate as time goes on...
And they are all so beautiful:
It was a great week of meeting together as a YWAM family from all over Europe as well as finding out more about the history and culture from this part of the world! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fun afternoon

One of my local volunteers met a couple of travelling actors who do their act in pre-schools and for children's parties. They were interested in doing something at the children's home and so the volunteer contacted me to see if we could work something out. I made a phone call to my contact in the home, and it was all arranged...

I came along just to make sure everything went well, and it was fantastic! The little and big kids alike loved the show which lasted just over 1/2 an hour.  There were fun jokes, some magic tricks, and they kept us all laughing from start to finish!
The two clowns became different characters as the story went along. It was all about playing outside and enjoying time with your friends (rather than being on a computer all day!)
After the play was over we had a dance party with the clowns and as you can see, the kids loved it!
I am so glad that this "accidental" meeting with my volunteer meant that the kids got to have a fun afternoon, giving them something to do on what otherwise would be a long boring Saturday afternoon! Thank-you especially to the clowns - you were amazing!  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review | The Longing in Me

Sheila Walsh, a well known Christian singer and former 700 Club co-host, takes us through a journey of self-discovery in this book, where she shares candidly about many of the parts of her journey, including divorce and bankruptcy. Using the story of King David's she takes us through longings that ultimately won't fulfill us and those that will.

Longing to be chosen, to be protected, to have control and be happy are all things that we long for that will never help us be fulfilled. The only longings that will fulfill us are longing for God's grace and for Him alone. She also shares that all of our longings are actually longing after God, but our longing for God could never exceed God's longing for us.

I really enjoyed this mix of bible study and personal experience as well as practical advice on how to find the best way to fulfill the longings in my heart.

If you are interested, there is also a 6 week small group bible study which goes along with this book. You can see the first session on Youtube. I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a way to follow after God's own heart, just as King David did.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Samaritan's Purse seminar

Every year, Samaritan Purse organises regional seminars called nConnect for the volunteers who organise the distribution of "Operation Christmas Child" shoebox packages throughout the world. As I am part of the national team for Bosnia and Herzegovina, I attended the nConnect for the Balkans in Bulgaria last week. It was great to be able to connect with people who are also committed to this ministry from Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria and also get to know everyone from Bosnia a bit better.
In between sessions, there was of course time to relax and enjoy hanging out in the hotel pool and sauna :) Good times!
Below is the Bosnia team doing some planning in for the next "season" which is coming up soon. Looking at where the "ministry partners" who will be doing the distribution are and where else can we go... Amongst other things we organise training for the partners involved in distributions, and do all the logistics for bringing in the three huge trucks of 30000 packages that will be distributed in December and January.
I love being part of this ministry which brings so much joy to so many children throughout the world. And working with a great team of people who are equally committed makes it easier to be involved.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Learning while having fun!

Instead of having a camp for the kids in the Fida sponsorship project  this year, we ran a day camp. The kids are sponsored from Finland and my housemate and colleague, Ljilja, is the child sponsorship coordinator for Banja Luka. She asked me to help out with organising this event and I gladly agreed. There are a lot of new kids in the project, so we aimed it mostly at age 5-12. Many of the older kids in the project (aged 13 plus) came and were volunteers to help with the kids. And, along with some mothers, some friends and some of my children's home volunteers, we all came together to make this happen...and we managed to pull it all off! Here we all are on day 1, more kids came later on as well!
First we all met in the classroom, playing a game while waiting for all the kids to arrive:  
We sang a song or two altogether:
And then there was time for some input. Here the older children from the project are acting out the Bible story "Jesus calms the storm" (here he is sleeping). One of the moms, Zeljka, is reading the text. During this time we introduced the theme for the day as well.
Then it was time to divide into 3 groups (according to age) and rotate among 3 activities: Health Promotion, English and a Creative Workshop. Health promotion included anti-smoking, anti-bullying and oral hygiene. Here Maja (one of the mothers who did health promotion training with us) is showing the kids the dangers of smoking. They are seeing how hard it is to breath through a straw (which is what it will be like with COPD which is caused by smoking)... one way to make the dangers of smoking REAL.
 Learning about good and bad food for teeth:
And how to brush properly:
Then it was time to move to the Creative Workshops. On one day my friend, Dijana, helped us out with making beautiful brooches and hairpins... the boys made them for their moms or sisters :)

Another day, Bojan (one of the older kids in the project), showed them how to make origami boats: Sina also joined us to see how things were going at the workshops. She is the sponsorship project coordinator for the Balkan region and a dear friend :)
They put one boat for each child on a poster which said "we are strong and brave". That was the day we learnt about Jesus calming the storm, and that day's health promotion was on anti-bullying and so we put them together and we can be brave and strong if Jesus is with us in the boat :)

On the last day we made butterflies to put on the below poster: It says Children are like butterflies in the wind. Some can fly higher than others, But each one flies the best it can. Why compare one against the other? Each one is different. Each one is special. Each one is beautiful. (So true!!!!)
The third and last workshop which the children rotated through was me doing English through games and songs. Here the youngest group are singing the number song:
The older group learning about fruits:
And the middle group learning about body parts: We had a great time as you can see :) And some learning did take place!
Each day while all this was going on, Sinisa talked to the parents (many of them who had to bring their children a long way) about how to be a wise parent. And after that they got to hang out together and share experiences as well. Many parents feel quite isolated, so we were glad we could provide a forum where they would have an opportunity to be together as well. (and a place to hang out while their children were at the workshops!)
On the last day we actually had a little bit of a presentation for the parents: Singing some of the songs we learnt:
 Including the English songs that we learnt: Here we are singing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes":
We also showed the posters we made. The top one says "We are precious" and was the theme for the first day, along with the song that our ex-colleague, Rami, wrote for camp a couple of years back. Love that song - it talks about how precious we are and how we shouldn't put tease each other! Each child put their hand print and name on the poster... because they are all precious!
Here is Maja sharing what they learnt about oral hygiene: the good and the bad food for teeth on two posters:
As you can see, we managed to fit a lot of good stuff into the workshops, and the kids had fun... and learnt many things along the way as well! A great big thanks to everyone involved (and there were many people!) in making this happen. We couldn't have done it without you!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book Review | Perfect Timing

I took this book with me to read on my vacation and spent a lovely afternoon absorbed in Roy Jones' life story as he shared how God got him into missions and continues to lead and guide him and his wife Shirley.

It was a short read, but it was definitely a book I will be reading again and again for the insights into how to live a life of faith full out. His insights into trusting God with finances, and how to seek the Lord's will in everything is definitely something that is worth being reminded about again and again.

Sharing frankly about his struggles, and how God has brought them through as a family, it is an encouragement that God will use you if you are willing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for more insight into what being a missionary is all about and also for those in missions to be reminded about why we do what we do!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Book Review | Together at the table

Having read and LOVED the first two books ("A Table by the Window" and "Reservations for Two") in the series by Hillary Manton Lodge, I jumped at the chance to review the final installment!

I decided to wait for my vacation and then go back and read the first two books again before getting into the third book "Together at the Table" and it was WONDERFUL! I loved the first two stories as much as I did the first time, and then I got lost in the third book completely. I must admit I even bored my vacation companions with stories from the books, as the characters are so alive and full bodied, it felt like I was talking about real people.

Once again the author keeps the suspense in the relationships of the two main characters going: "will they, won't they?" She also brings a wonderful and completely unexpected ending to the story of her grandmother which started in the first book.

I don't want to give anything away, but I cannot emphasize enough how much I LOVED this series and can recommend it as a wonderful read for foodies, travel lovers, romance suspense fans, history buffs, pretty much anyone who loves a good read about "real" people which makes you smile and want more...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Croatian Vacation

This year, I found a really reasonable place on the Island of Brac, just opposite from the city of Split. We also we added Carrie from the US to our motley crew - so now we were four nationalities from all over to make the waiters and border guards wonder how we got together!
Ljilja, Sina and I had been on the Island of Hvar before, but never on Brac, and we really enjoyed it. We were in Supetar, the biggest town:
We did some exploring of some of the other places around the island:
So beautiful!
We had a lovely sea view from our apartment and watched the sunset from our little balcony most nights: I love sunsets!
Carrie left us 3 days before the end, so on her last day we went to the world famous "zlatni rat" beach near Bol. (the below pic is off the internet, as any pictures from the land do not do it justice!) It was a lovely place and we had a fantastic day...
And we went out to a lovely restaurant overlooking the sea for her last dinner with us:
 After she left we did more exploring and enjoying the lovely summer weather at the beach :)
It was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and be able to come back energised for the next season here in Banja Luka!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...