Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Alpha 2007

We started off Alpha for this year with a bang. We even had to buy a new table as we had to add a 4th (we only have 3)! PTL when we first started Alpha 3 years ago we bought 4 place settings (plates,etc) so we had enough of those... At the time I said "we need to have faith", well it has finally come to be that we needed them...

For those who don't know what Alpha is: it is a course started in Holy Trinity Brompton in London, and is aimed at people who want to find out more about Christianity. It starts with dinner, followed by a talk on a specific topic (including "Who is Jesus?" to "What is prayer?") and then a coffee time with discussion usually based on that topic. It is run in over 160 countries around the world, this is our 4th Alpha here in Banja Luka.

This Alpha is written into one of our Humanitarian Aid projects and so is optional for the families on that project - and so the majority of the people who came were through that project - 11 to be exact. We also have 6 other friends or Fellowship members who came along plus 6 of us "staff", so we only had one open space!Sinisa and my table with two couples from the project. The husbands are both bakers by profession and the wifes actually went to high school together! Miika and Ira and their table - sisters Jadranka and Ljubinka and Damir. Damir is an old member of the Fellowship but his wife Ljubinka has never ever come. Her sister Jadranka has been coming for about a year now, and so we invited them all to Alpha and she came along with them!! Sergej and his table - half people from the project, half his friends. Ljilja and her table - all people from the project. I eventually came and sat with this table as they were the fun table - and stayed on the longest (but actually they also had the best discussion too!!). During the coffee time Miika and I played a little ditty "Down by the Riverside". Or should I say I wowed everyone with my 3 chords and Miika just played along :-)

All in all it was great evening and despite the pouring rain we had a FANTASTIC turnout! May it continue through the rest of the course (we will have 7 more weeks...). Thanks to those who are praying!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Amarula party...

Mary is here visiting, and to my shame, I discovered that I had never shared with her the delight that is Amarula. And when we were at Olja's wedding we had decided to have an Amarula night with Olja and her cousins, Vesna and Naca, as they had wanted to try it, so we decided to do it while Mary is here. Olja's husband was happy to have the night to watch an important football match and us girls were delighted to have the chance to hang out and enjoy Amarula milkshakes. I also made peppermint crisp pudding-my mom brought the ingredients from South Africa when she came as you can't get anything here. It was such a fun evening - I can't remember when last I laughed sooooo much (and that was BEFORE the Amarula!!).

left-right: Ljilja, Vesna, Naca, Olja, Mary, Dragana and I

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How funnnnyy!!

Ok, I love it when Ljilja says to me things in English that are directly translated from the Bosnian. Like "crazy like electricity" (which describes our friend Deb!!) but the one tonight has to be my favourite yet...

This afternoon I had a reeeeaaallly long meeting with Janet and Mark and Cindi - like 5 hours (which went REALLY well, and Janet and I are now much happier for those of you that have been following that saga...) and then I went straight to practice with Miika for the service tomorrow and so I came home at 9.30pm really tired.

Ljilja and I then went for a walk to get outside for a bit. And we were practicing English as we were walking. As we were walking she said to me in English - "you look really tired, you look, well, like death on vacation"... How funny is that?! Isn't it a great??!! Anyway, I am off to bed so I will stop looking like death on vacation!!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Mary is here visiting right now, and she came over for lunch today and stayed to hang out all afternoon!!! For those who don't know, Mary lived in Banja Luka for over 7 years and left to get married (she is here right now without her husband to catch up with everyone by herself. Bill arrives on Monday- we are looking forward to seeing him as well, he is great!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

one more of the team...

I realised that in my blog about the Indiana team that I failed to mention two of the team at all. They are actually Shelley and Luanne, but as they are actually roommates - for me they will always be "Laverne and Shirley"! They spent the week with Sergej and his family and despite sometimes having to speak "hand and feet" to get understood, I know they had a great time!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


For those of you who don't know, South Africa won the Rugby World Cup last night, beating England 15-6 in the final. I got to watch some of the match on a Serbian channel, explaining (well trying!) to my Bosnian friends what the game is all about! Below is a picture of our president, Thabo Mbeki celebrating with the team after the match!
And on Sunday, I decided to celebrate in my own little way - embarrassing Ljilja by driving to church this morning (and back!) with my flag flying high and proud! People looked at me strangely, but it was good fun!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Indiana Team...

This past week we have been hosting a team of six ladies from Indianapolis. They are from the church that supports our Ukrainian colleague, Sergej and his family. As he speaks very little English it means a lot of translation (and is quite tiring) for me, but it is very encouraging to have the teams come as it just reminds us we are not alone over here. In the below picture you can see us on the main square while on our tour around Banja Luka. Three of the team stayed with Ljilja and me: Corina, her best friend, Deb and Marisha (in below photograph on the walking street in Banja Luka). Corina is the reason that Ljlija's English has improved since she was here in May - they have been emailing and instant messaging constantly and even talking on Skype! Marisha is coming next year for a 10 week internship starting in May and we are really looking forward to her coming! again! Deb, well, there is just no way to describe Deb - she is one of a kind!! We really enjoyed having them to stay and it was really hard to say goodbye!
The team came with a special gift for Sergej and his family - money for a much needed car: below is the photo of Sergej and Ira (right) opening the gift - which was a toy car - and you can just see on his face that it still hasn't sunk in what this actually means! It did later and he started crying(as did we all)! Linn, on the left, led the team and is a part time missions pastor at the church.
Here we are on the last day, as we were having "pita" (Bosnian pie) for lunch at our house. I just think it is such a lovely photo of all of us! I don't have many pictures of what the team actually did - besides taking humanitarian aid to various organisations and seeing what they do, they also helped at my English Club and ran a Women's scrapbooking/craft evening. The last night they had a fantastic goodbye party with over 35 people attending- where they shared something the Lord had done in their lives during the week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"The Princess Bride" and Finnish girls...

We are busy babysitting two of the four Finnish girls, Jijska and Noomi, while their parents have a break away together. They first of all watched "Aladdin", while I was making lunch. After lunch I sat and watched the end with them, and then they decided that they wanted to watch "The Princess Bride" which I wasn't against as I love watching it!! Now, I have to explain that as they are Finnish kids they can't really speak English, but as they have lived in Bosnia for 3 years, their Bosnian is fantastic. So...they weren't able to understand the English and so I ended up explaining the film to them in Bosnian... here I am explaining an English film to Finnish girls in Bosnian!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Olja and Nenad's wedding...

Our friend Olja got married! I am soooo happy for her and her husband Nenad... She had almost given up on ever getting married, and then met Nenad while on holiday two years ago and now I am so happy for them both as he is a great guy!

Ljilja and I were among the 45 or so guests at the wedding - and we had a blast! The day started at 9.30 for us, as we were helping with the decorating of the cars. We made the bows last week and then yesterday morning got to put them on the cars - below is the bride's car outside the church. We also decorated the other 10 cars with red bows - but only 4-5 bows on each, so that was easier...

Here are Olja and Nenad coming out of the church after the ceremony which was at 12.
After the ceremony we drove about an hour outside of Banja Luka to Kozara mountain to the hotel where the reception was held. We ate lunch - which had various different courses and in between we danced to the live music and went for walks on the mountain. Here is my favourite picture of the couple dancing at the reception - they just look sooo happy!
Olja also got up and sang a few songs - and she is GOOOOD!
Otherwise, we just sat and chatted to the other guests, and ate, and ate some more, and ate... Here we are below with Olja - spot the buttonholes that we are wearing that each wedding guest gets...
Eventually around 10pm many of the guests had gone home and the rest of them (like us) went up to bed in the hotel... Our room was great - we even had a jacuzzi! We breakfasted altogether this morning before heading back to Banja Luka! All in all it was a great experience!

Olja and Nenad's wedding part 2

Okay, one of the reasons we enjoyed the wedding has to be the fact that Nenad's two "kums" (one was the best man at the wedding and the other was a kind of godfather at his baptism - it is the same word in Bosnian) were quite fun and good company... It all started when they had to do the traditional "first dance" and the bridesmaid had disappeared - so the best man grabbed first at Ljilja who was having none of it, and so I ended up dancing with him...After a few more drinks this is what they were up to... They are (as is Nenad) from Montenegro and so this was some sort of nationalistic song that has got them all excited...
Throughout the evening we sat and chatted in between dancing, and then when we came to take a picture of us with Raja, the other kum, he goes and kisses Ljilja...
This made Dejan, the best man, a little jealous, so to make peace I got my photo taken with him...
After everyone had gone to bed, we hung out some more in our room and then went to our separate bedrooms- they were sharing the one across the hall from us. About 1/2 hour later, there is a knock on the door which I barely heard. I went to see who it was as Ljilja was in the bath(jacuzzi!) and it was Raja standing there looking sheepish. He didn't even need to say anything as I could hear Dejan snoring soooo loudly from across the hallway that I knew what he wanted to ask before he even asked. We had a spare couch/bed in our room and so he ended up sleeping there as there was NO way that he would have been able to sleep next to Dejan!

Needless to say we all teased the heck out of Dejan the next morning...

And before any of you ask they have already left to return to Podgorica (about 7 hours drive away) today, so nothing happening there...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Janice's visit and English Class and Club

Janice came up from Sarajevo to visit, and of course I got her to help out with my beginner's English class - see below pic...At class we also had Sara (below) join us as her mother didn't have anyone with whom she could leave her. She was very good, especially as I bribed her with dolls from our humanitarian aid collection! She is just such a sweetie...After English Class, we had our English Conversation Club. and last night there was 18 people! Besides having a discussion at the beginning of the class, we did something like "mad libs" together in pairs - and they loved it! It is quite fun what comes out of each story...
It was quite funny when Janice and I were setting out the chairs for the English Club, she was surprised that I was putting out so many chairs. Last year when she came to visit and came to the Club NO ONE came that week. So she was thinking "boy she has a lot of faith to be putting out 12 chairs". But things have changed - since having the team this summer and since the Club that Miika and Mirjam (the Finnish family working here) ran have joined us- we have been getting on average about 12-14 people, but last night was also more than even I expected! Long may it continue!!
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