Monday, September 29, 2008

Mom's visit in pictures...

Mom is still here one more day - but so far we have had a great time... here are some pictures:
At Sinisa and Olja's for lunch on Friday:At Ivana's for lunch on Saturday (spot the pattern!!)And Ivana's children fell in love with Mom - and despite the language difference they were able to communicate!Olja's for cake (and to meet Andrijana) Saturday afternoon: Sunday morning, Church: (see how nice and bright it is with the new lighter colour inside!) Sunday evening: Dragana's for cake Monday: outing to Krupa Falls with Mary: We had a wonderful time: the weather was absolutely great (after a week of rain it was fantastic to see the sun and lots of it!!). We had a picnic lunch and wandered around for an hour - and enjoyed ourselves!!

Here is mom in the working flourmill they have there: Mom, Mary and Ljilja and some of the falls in the background: Mom, me and Mary: Me and mom: Haystack pic on the way home: mom and half a haystack!! Mom and Mary finishing up the puzzle mom has been working on while she is here (1000 pieces!!!) As you can see we have been busy, but it has been FUN!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh boy 2!

So, yesterday I am teaching my Beginner's English Class when I get an sms from Ljilja (who had gone to the bus station with Doreen to pick up my mom so they could fly back together today) to say that mom was not on the bus... So in between teaching my poor students I was frantically sms-ing backwards and forwards to try and figure out what had gone wrong.

Once the class was over I ran upstairs to the office and downloaded the voip (like skype out) program I use: which luckily has my sister's number saved in it, and is free to England (you pay 10Euros and get 90 days free to certain countries). So, I called my sister's house in Oxford over the internet. I got my brother-in-law and now picture this: two people at the bus station waiting for my mom... and they are freezing as it is cold... and I say "I am trying to track mom down" (thinking he will say she has just missed the bus or something). He goes "oh wait she is around here somewhere". I get her on the phone (thinking to myself "what is she still doing in Oxford!!") and say "mom, aren't you supposed to be on a bus to Luton right now?" and she goes "was that today?????"!!!

She had completely spaced out (granted she is still jet-lagged from going to Canada to my brother's) and forgot that she was supposed to go on Tuesday to catch the flight on Wednesday morning early (she just thought "Wednesday flight, go Wednesday") and so she was still there!!! Anyway, long story short she managed to get on the next bus (rushing to throw things in a bag, etc) and my wonderful friend Doreen (who is an angel in disguise) went back to get her again off the later bus...

Luckily this morning both her and Ljilja (again the wonderful Doreen dropping them off at the crack of dawn) got on the flight to Zagreb and managed to catch the 12.30 bus through to Banja Luka... so I will go and collect them very soon (yay!!).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh boy!

This past weekend Ljilja was at an Alpha conference at HTB in London. She was supposed to return yesterday, but unfortunately didn't make it on time to her flight back (she was trying to get to Luton airport from the centre of London on public transport which didn't start early enough for her to make it, but she only realised too late). And being a cheap airline (Wizzair), she had to buy a whole other seat on the next flight out which of course is only on Wednesday...

Now, this is where the story gets fun. My mom is coming to visit and she just happens to be flying on the same airline to Zagreb and yes, you guessed it, she is on the Wednesday flight as well!! So, now they will be coming together.

I had already asked my friend Doreen at the YWAM base in Harpenden (near Luton) if she could have my mom stay the night tonight (as the flight is at 7.50am and she would have to leave Oxford at 3am to get there on time) and get her to the airport tomorrow. So when Ljilja missed her flight, I called Doreen and asked her if she could take in Ljilja as well... PTL for wonderful friends who come through in a pinch!!

So, unexpectedly, Ljilja gets a bit of a forced break, I am without a roommate for two days and my mom gets an escort from London to Banja Luka!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Dragan and Sonja got married!! When I met them 5 years ago they had already been going out 4-5 years, so it is about time!! They even put on their invitations "we know you have been waiting for this for a long time". Ljilja couldn't make it as she is (lucky bum!) in London for the weekend at an Alpha conference-having a wonderful time...

Despite the rain and the cool weather, it was a really great wedding! They had two couples come from the US for the wedding (one stayed at our place): the husband of one to be the best man and the wife of the other to be the maid of honour. The only real hiccup at the wedding was because the best man had forgotten his passport at home (and he needed it as he was signing official documents as the witness): but luckily they grudgingly let him use his driver's license...

Otherwise it was also fun as Dragana and I were involved in putting corsages (of rosemary) on all the guests (one of the traditions) before the ceremony: which kept us out of mischief. And the church ceremony itself was lovely as the church where it was held was light and airy and the priests were actually smiling! Then we went to the restaurant and the official ceremony (with the justice of the peace: they have them separately here) was held there which was really nice. The food was fantastic, the company was good and there was dancing (my favourite part!!).

And I love being able to be a part of peoples' big day: especially when it has been soooo long coming!!!

Here are some pictures:
At the church: And during the ceremony:
At the restaurant: the first dance!
And me with the lovely bride and proud groom. Don't they make a gorgeous couple. As it was so cold I didn't get to wear my "wedding dress"!! (the dress I have worn to every other wedding in the last two years: this would have been the 6th!!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

On the way to home group...

Ljilja dropped me off in town so I could go and cancel our old internet on the way to home group. After having all the hassles with it - we now have a new system through the phone company and it is working well! Now I want to see how long it takes them to come take their equipment: and see if they are quicker to come out then than when things aren't working!

I then walked out and met up with one of our Humanitarian Aid project participants who has been coming to my English classes. She hasn't been coming because she forgot when we started up again after our summer break - and so it was nice to see her and also to be able to tell her that we have started up.

I carried on walking and bumped into Vesna, the friend who works for Telekom Srpske and helped us get our new internet connection in two days (when others wait for up to a month - it is not what you know but who here!). Sinisa even said to me "man, Belinda you have more "veza" (connections) in this town than I do" - they had to wait the month!!

I then carried on walking to Sinisa and Olja's and on the way I saw this: The other day I had seen the red part (which if you can't see is an upside down cross) and was saddened by this. I see that someone else was bothered by it because they tried to make it into a proper cross and wrote "Jesus Christ" and "Overcome evil with good". I think despite the fact that they were also destroying property through graffiti it is nice to have a more positive message on the wall. But I waiting to see what will come up next in the "graffit wars"!

Home group was nice - we are studying Daniel and it encourages us: kind of like this graffiti: to not compromise. To live lives that please God and not people. It was good to be reminded of that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I went again this weekend to Sarajevo to see those working down there with YWAM before they all left the country - yip everyone (there were 8 of them) is leaving: some forever, some for 6 months, others not sure! As Dragana would say "they know something we don't know: war is going to break out" :-)

As my friend Janice (one of those leaving forever, sniff, sniff) wanted pictures of haystacks I took some for her on my travels... I don't often put "view" pictures on my blog so I thought I would put them on so you can enjoy them as well. I think it is going to be a beautiful autumn - the trees are turning colours already!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sina from Finland...

The last two days we have been hosting Sina from Finland. She is the coordinator for the Fida Child Sponsorship projects all over the world - so she came to check out what is happening here. She has been great company and we are sad to see her already leaving today to go on to Tuzla. It really was a whistle-stop visit!!

English Club again

Ok, I know I am boring about the English Club, but we had fun last night and so I ended up taking a couple of photos... We were sitting outside as it is still nice here in Banja Luka and the inside STILL smells like paint a month after it was painted (and I had already spent two hours in there having English beginners class so I just couldn't handle it anymore!!). Hopefully it will air out soon...

Here we all are in our glory (Miika had already left): Igor, Branka, Aleksandra, Sofija, Lea and myself.
Aleksandra and Sofija:And of course I never pass up a chance to have my pic taken with the handsome Igor:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Internet problems explained...

Ok, so for over two months we have been fighting with the internet company about the fact that our wireless internet connection keeps having problems. And they have been out once and changed a whole lot of stuff but it was still not working. They also kept telling us it was our fault (we have an internal wireless router in the house and they say that that is the problem!) and not coming out to see what the problem was...

I mentioned on another entry that the guy was even saying "oh is that you Belinda" when we called...

In the meantime there was a better offer elsewhere (through the telephone company) and so we have signed up for that... and we are just waiting for them to come and install it (hopefully soon!)

Today the guys finally came to see what the problem was... and guess what! It isn't our fault! There is a crane in between our antennae and the sending station and every time it swings around it breaks our connection and that is why we have been having problems!!! I said to the guy, it is so nice to know that there is an explanation and that it isn't our fault!!

Fida Sponsorship Project

One of the projects that Ljilja is working on (and Mirjam) is a sponsorship project through Fida (the Finnish organisation Miika and Mirjam work with). They find sponsors in Finland and they sponsor children here throughout their 8 years of elementary school (and beyond if they want). Right now they have 20 something kids in the project. Half are from Banja Luka, and half are from another town, Celinac, about 15kms away from Banja Luka. Last night the parents and some of the kids of the families from Celinac came to hear a presentation (which Ljilja did and did a FANTASTIC job) on the project, on the expectations, responsibilities, how it works, etc. And also to meet the rest of our team as at times we will all be involved in visiting the families.

Here is Ljilja doing the presentation:And Ljilja, Mirjam and Sergej with the parents and some of the children:
Ljilja with the kids (before she told them all to go inside and get some more cookies and chips to take home with them - she really is the "fun aunty"!)
These families all have more than four children - we got them through one of Sergej's contacts: an organisation that works with families with more than four kids - but only one will be "sponsored" from each family, although the money will be able to go to the other kids as well...

It is a great way to help these families to be able to school their children and give them a better quality of life. And for us to be able to get to know the families and show them how much God loves them, in a practical way.

We all had to share a little about ourselves at the presentation and Sergej was sharing how he had come to help people, spiritually, materially, physically: Ljilja butted in and said "well now you know - if you need help, physically: to work your land in the spring, Sergej is the one to call!!!"

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Budo and Senka's wedding...

So, Ljilja and I are here in Sarajevo to attend Budo and Senka's wedding (amongst other things). It was held at the Evangelical church in Sarajevo (where Senka's brother, Sasa, is the pastor) and was really lovely. Here are the beautiful couple (while Budo is saying his vows):The church was FULL to capacity:
Ljilja and I with the happy couple: (and yes I am wearing my "wedding dress" AGAIN! I think this is the fifth wedding this dress has been worn to!!)
After the ceremony we were treated to a LOT of food (below) while we chatted and caught up with people we don't get to see that often! Amongst other people, we spent time chatting to Enisa (our hostess, next to me) and Tiffany (and her husband, Sladjan, pictured below with ALL the beer bottles!!!)...
Ok, they weren't all his! But I just LOVE the expression on his face: like he has been caught in the act!!

And lastly, the cakes: Spot the special cake on the right - Budo is the drummer for the BH worship team, and even played for the worship at the wedding!!
It was lovely to be able to be a part of their special day!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarajevo internet...

So, Ljilja, Janice and I are in Sarajevo right now for Senka and Budo's wedding tomorrow night. We are staying with Enisa, but she has been gone all day to help set up for the wedding, so we were just hanging at her place. We then decided to come to a hotel where they have free wireless internet for guests, and use the internet, pretending that we are guests :-) each with our own laptop! (can you just picture it!!)... We had lunch earlier today at the restaurant across the way and saw the sign saying "free wireless for hotel guests" so we decided to try it out and see how it went...and we are having coffee and tea and stuff so technically we ARE guests!! just not overnight ones...:-)

This morning, we BARELY made it in time to the British Consulate for Ljilja to get her visa application in. We left at 7 this morning from Banja Luka and made really good time to Sarajevo - getting in at 10.45. But then...we got stuck in a traffic jam in Sarajevo for 1/2 an hour!! And so we decided to take a back way to the consulate, so I ended up driving like crazy round unfamiliar NARROW back streets to try and get there (we just kept asking people for directions and found it eventually!!) But PTL in the end they accepted her application - now we will see if she will get the visa!! She is going to England to go to an Alpha conference at HTB in London on the 19th of September.

Monday, September 01, 2008

When you are well known...

I was just thinking over today and some of the things that happened: I was phoned by my automechanic so he could ask me how my car was (it was leaking petrol before I went to the sea and he patched it up before we left, so he was just checking to see if went all okay) . How is that for personal service? Ok, I did go out for coffee with him last week as well, so he has become more of a friend than just a mechanic! (And before you get excited, he has a wife and child!)

Then this morning I went to register Janice who is staying in Banja Luka this week and the lady at the police station said "Come on in, Belinda". I haven't had contact with her personally in like THREE years. Although, I have been in a LOT lately to register people - like maybe 10 different times since the beginning of May and I have seen her many of the times...but still it was quite funny that she remembered my name!

Then this afternoon I phoned the internet company to complain AGAIN. (we have been having problems with our internet). And I said "I am complaining again" and the guy said "is that Belinda?" because I had complained to him last week and he remembered!! (although he might just have worked it out because of my retarded use of the language!!)
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