Friday, December 30, 2005

Busy week...

Well, after the Christmas madness, we haven't really had much chance of a break, but it is all good. Janice stayed until Wednesday, and it was great having her (we played endless games of Sequence - and man are we now addicted!). We dropped her off at 2.30 and then ran around madly while we had a chance without guests and then went to pick up Froukje (from EUS in Sarajevo) at 8pm.

She came up to essentially train our students, Dragana and Ljilja (And me!) in how to run Evangelistic Bible studies. So on Thursday that is what we did. And Thursday evening we ran the bible study (which is usually run by Sinisa - but he couldn't make it) with her help. It is a really simple method and the "girls" are really excited about the possibility of doing this with their friends and so it was good that she could come up now, even in the midst of this madness.

She left on Thursday evening, (well early Friday morning as the bus was at 12.30am) and now we are waiting for guests to arrive from Serbia - who are coming to celebrate New Year's with us... So it is a lucky thing that my car automatically knows the way to the bus station!!

Today was spent preparing for the party which happens tomorrow night... We have 10 people coming, and will have a little dinner, and then hang out here until about 11, and then head into town (if the weather isn't too bad) and listen to the bands that will be there. We will be on the main square for New Year's (they have fireworks and it is quite fun) and then head back here to hang out after that. We have at least 5 people staying the night (2 guys from Serbia, and 3 girls who live a ways outside of Banja Luka) and so it will be long, but hopefully fun night!!

I hope you all have a great New Year's!!!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas photos...


Me, Olja and Ljilja (this is another Olja, who came later after everyone had left). After she left around 9pm, Ljilja and I cleaned up until almost 11pm - and after that went to bed nice and tired... and woke up the next morning to a blanket of SNOW... A white boxing day instead of Christmas... Posted by Picasa

This was desert - Christmas wreath on top of a brownie -yum yum! (I don't do Christmas cake, yuck). The wreath is essentially a marshmallow treat with green food colouring - with marshmallows sent from SA as they don't have them here...Very simple and they look cute! (well I think they do!) Posted by Picasa

Desert time: Vlastimir, Janet, Janice and Olja...  Posted by Picasa

Jovan and the hats from inside the Christmas crackers... looking very Knight like!!  Posted by Picasa

Ljilja and Dragan get into the Christmas crackers (imported from the UK - thanks to Alison Howey who gave them to me when I was there in August...) They were a big hit! Posted by Picasa

This is us at the table with the silly hats - see the two holdouts!!  Posted by Picasa

Carving the Turkey with Janice (my YWAM friend who came up for Christmas from Sarajevo) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ready for Christmas!!!


We are having 11 guests for a turkey (and pork - being in the Serbian part of Bosnia has its advantages!!) dinner so we have set up a table in our living room. Spot the Christmas crackers and silly hats which I will be making everyone wear as I am mean and horrible - and it wouldn't be Christmas without silly hats and Christmas Crackers... Posted by Picasa

Tree and presents (some for me, some for Ljilja, some for guests) with my (new) African theme couch...Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Visiting Milica...

Today Ljilja and I drove to Kozarska Dubica (about 1 1/2 hours away) to visit Milica. Now Milica used to live in Zenica and was one of the founding members of the Baptist Church there. We went to take her Christmas packages for the children in her family and in the area as a blessing to her and her neighbours.

She is still strong in her faith despite having very little contact with other believers. She moved away from Zenica to be with her son and daughter who live (with their children) in the area, but she even admitted that she would have been happier if she had stayed in Zenica.

It was a great time of catching up and introducing her to Ljilja. There are so many great "Milica stories" that I often talk about her to others so many here know all about her. One of the best stories is when she went to visit cousins in Australia (think 60 year Bosnian lady who speaks no English travelling with her even older sister around Australia and you can imagine what they got up to) - she went to a fancy restaurant and the waiter was a friend of the cousin she was with and so he asked her "What is your name?". Thinking he was asking for her order she used one of her few English words and said "Chicken"... :-) needless to say she became known as "Chicken" after that.

She is also the lady who taught all our YWAM teams (who usually stayed with her) two Bosnian/Serbian words "Sjedi!, Jedi!" (sit down!, eat!). And she used them today on Ljila and me A LOT! We rolled out of there...

Despite being a long way, it was a fun day, and we will have to get out to her more often...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How funny...

Ljilja and I went to a friend's house for her birthday... We sat chatting to the friend's cousin for about 20 minutes, and then Ljilja says something like "Belinda is actually from South Africa" and the cousin looks at her and at me and then says "Oh man you are such a shocking liar"... She couldn't believe that I could speak Serbian that well and be a foreigner, let alone from South Africa ...

Quick Sandra update...

She had the operation this morning and it went well. She is of course in pain, but it is looking good for recovery. PTL! Thanks for praying those that did.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Zenica trip

Ljilja, Dragana and I went to Zenica for the weekend. We went down to attend an EUS (Evandeoska Udruzenje Studenata - Evangelical Union of Students) meeting with other students from throughout Bosnia. We had a great time at the meetings and were all glad that we went... despite some of the fun stuff that happened while we were there...

We stayed with my friends the Summays (Beth and Jeff), in the bottom storey of their house. And it was nice to see them again. At 4am this morning, Ljilja woke us up because she saw a mouse! And the two of them couldn't go back to sleep as they were afraid of the poor thing. And so because of lack of sleep and the fact that the weather had turned nasty, we left earlier than planned (skipping church). Also their house is on one of the biggest hills in Zenica, so it was quite fun this morning when we had to leave as about 30cms of snow had fallen, but we managed to get down safely in my little car as there was no ice...

On the way back another car sideswiped us as I was driving (Ljilja also did some driving) and I lost my side mirror - but PTL that was all it hit, as I thought for a split second that it was all over...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hvala Bogu!!

(which means literally "thanks to God!!" or can be translated "Praise the Lord!!")

My landlady's daughter Sladjana (who also lives upstairs) gave birth to a healthy 3.8kg 50cm baby boy last night in the hospital (after barely arriving in time) about 3 weeks early. This is already a reason to rejoice, but even more so (as many of you know) as she lost twin boys just under a year ago as she gave birth almost 2 months early and that time didn't make it to the hospital in time...

My landlady, Zivka (or Ziki as we call her) is sooooo happy and beaming that everything worked out well - and of course Sasha her son-in-law is even happier! We were saved from the traditional shooting into the air that would normally accompany the safe arrival of a baby - Sasha was ready to go, but Ziki held him back... luckily as it was 3am! We would have thought it was war breaking out!

Anyway, I thought I would share the joy as we are also happy that everything worked out, and can hardly wait for the baby to come home so we can see him (no visiting allowed in the hospital for non-family).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Christmas packages...and Sandra

Now is the time when we hand out (over 20 000 in Banja Luka and surrounding areas) Christmas packages that come via Samaritan's Purse from England. This year we are also handing out leaflets from Child Evangelism Fellowship (or CEF) - a correspondence course to be precise - along with each package. Ljilja (my roomie) and I will be responsible for the course here in the Republika Srpska. So far this has meant opening the PO Box, and organising for 26000 stickers (with the new address) to be be placed on already-printed leaflets (with an outdated address). And now we are sticking labels like crazy!

Yesterday, Sandra, the person who coordinates this in Sarajevo came up for the day to show us how to do the course (and to get to know us better, as we have only met once). If you can remember pray for her-she is going next week to have a BIG operation to remove a (thankfully benign) tumour which is EVERYWHERE in her abdomen. She is so relaxed about it - and she says right now it is like she is getting everything ready before she goes on holiday - she has such peace that everything will work out okay. Pray that it does!!

Now we are just waiting (and sticking in the meantime) for the next truck to arrive with the Christmas packages. [if you don't know these packages are made by kids in the UK - so called "shoebox packages"]. We have already distributed about 5000 packages to schools and other organisations. Ljilja and I have also distributed about 20 here in our neighbourhood. The kids are sooooooo grateful, it is so much fun to be able to do that and it is a great way to get to know our neighbours better...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mary...

I wasn't going to post about this, as it is really Mary's good news, but I figure it is something that has made me very happy recently, so why not share the joy...

Mary was my colleague (and for a while team leader) here in Banja Luka. She left at the end of last year to explore what God had for her further. She thought it was to maybe go to India to work with abandoned babies.All she knew was that she was supposed to leave Bosnia...after being here for 7 years!

All of us miss her terribly - and her visits this year didn't help, esp as she wasn't sure what she was going to be doing, (after being in India, she decided it wasn't for her!) and thought she may be coming back...

So two weeks ago when she sent us an email to say that she had fallen in love with an old family friend (whose wife had passed away) and he with her, and they were going to be married in the new year we were all extremely happy for her, but at the same time just a leetle sad as it means she would definitely not be coming back!

Students...

This past weekend, Ljilja and I hosted two people from IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). One, Enisa - a Bosnian - works in Sarajevo and throughout Bosnia with Christian students. The other, Froukje - from Holland - works throughout Central Europe. It was a real privilege to host them and to chat about how we in Banja Luka can be involved in working with Students. I can see God's hand at work in bringing us together and so am excited about where we go from here.

We have been praying as a Fellowship for a way (and Ljilja and I especially) for us to reach students here in Banja Luka (as there is a big University) and so it was very encouraging to here their stories and hints and to process with them.

Ljilja, Dragana (Another student - who became a Christian last year on Alpha) and I will be going to a meeting in Zenica in two weeks to meet up with Christian Students from all over Bosnia (there are probably about 10-12 of them altogether).
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