Saturday, November 29, 2008

We are pensioners...

I think there is nothing worse than having 3 sweet young things in the house to make you feel old. And my roomie Ljilja agrees: as we were saying goodbye to our guests as they headed out to party at 10pm... she turned to me and said "we are pensioners: here it is 10pm on a Saturday and I just want to watch TV and then got to bed"

Here are Milijana, Ljubica and Sladja (Ljilja's sister) all dolled up and ready to go...And me, I am off to bed...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sladja is here...

Last night, Ljilja's sister Sladja (below in the pic with Ljilja from last year's visit) arrived with their cousin, Milijana and her best friend, Ljubica. I made her favourite lunch today (spinach chicken stir fry mmmm) but most of the time they have been out and about enjoying Banja Luka. Right now they have occupied our bathroom as they get ready to go out tonight...

I had to take a picture for you of Sladja's handbags: she has 7 of them here!
Ljubica leaves on Sunday, and Sladja and Milijana will probably stay until next weekend... so I guess that makes it one handbag per day!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Home Group

Since September, the Christian Fellowship Church Banja Luka has been meeting in three home groups each week, and then only having a Sunday service once a month. This is my Home Group led by Sinisa. l-r: Sinisa, Jovan, Anka, Olja (Sinisa's wife), Ivana, me, Leka (Anka's husband) and Nikola. We meet once a week and study the bible together: and have a good time!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Twins...

Today we went to go visit the Twins, Daliborka and Dajana. We met them through one of our humanitarian aid projects a couple of years ago and we just love them. They are doing much better now so don't need humanitarian aid, so we haven't been to see them (or their mom) for AGES. Here is Dajana, Ljilja, Daliborka and I:
Their mom (and dad) are both deaf and dumb and never learnt sign language, yet they manage to communicate and their mom is a real teaser. I knew she would make a comment about my weight and I hadn't even made it through the door when she puffed out her cheeks and made as if she was really big and pointed at me and then wagged her finger at me!! (you have put on weight you naughty girl!). I put my finger to my lips (be quiet!!). Here we are with their mom:And me again with the Dajana and Daliborka and yes they are twins even though they are very different! They are very sweet and VERY young (only just 20): they were talking about a neighbour who looked really good for his age - you couldn't tell how old he was. Ljilja asked how old he is and Daliborka said "well he is almost 30"... Ljilja said "can I give you a hug?"... "do you know how I am almost 30, and Belinda is 34": and they couldn't believe it!!! Oh, to be young again!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Yesterday we (l-r:Dragan, Sonja, Ljilja, Dragana, me and David) were over at Dragana and Sonja's for dinner for Sonja's birthday (which was great by the way) and she jokingly said "so when are we going to do it at your house?": seeing as we had been last weekend at Dragana's and I had promised to make brownies "sometime" for everyone. Never one to stare down a challenge, Ljilja volunteered me for today (not that I was that upset: any excuse to make brownies!), that is of course if our heat came back, which it has, PTL!!

So tonight Dragana, Dragan and Sonja came over for some of "my" famous brownies... I made fried chicken and "bubble and squeak" for dinner and even if I say so myself it was really good. (And seeing as everyone ate a lot, I guess the consensus was the same!) And David: you missed your chance, sorry!

Here are Dragan and Sonja enjoying the brownies: I couldn't get them to stop and pose they were enjoying them too much!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heating problems...

I have been so blessed in this house because it comes complete with central heating which my landlady takes care of: using a HUGE furnace to heat the three stories. Everytime we come in the warm house we say "thank-you Lord for our wonderful landlady", as it is really hard work, but she doesn't let anyone else do anything because she is afraid of it breaking down and leaving us without heating...

Two days ago the 3-year old 2500KM (about R15000/$2000) furnace broke. It has a 5-year guarantee, and she went for the more expensive one so it would last a lifetime: this was a very short life-time and they are now even trying to get out of the 5-year guarantee... saying it wasn't put in properly: the person who put it in said it was the person who did the piping, the person who did the piping says he did his job properly...etc etc

All this to say I have come to realise how much we are really blessed with the heating as it has been pretty chilly in the house the last two days: I mean we don't heat in South Africa, but here it is MUCH colder than there, and we didn't have any heaters in the house because we rely on the central heating so it has been sit under blankets and freeze! (now we have borrowed a heater, so we are nice and toasty at least in the lounge - thanks Mark and Cindi!)

Right now they are busy trying to see what is really wrong with it, so there is some hope that it will be fixed soon: but tomorrow is a holiday and then weekend, so it may be that we are without heat for a while: and they are predicting -6 for the weekend (that is in the teens for those in fahrenheit) so heres hoping they will actually fix it soon!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Plastic bags...

I have been challenged recently about giving up on using plastic bags (which is quite hard here in Bosnia where the really shove them on you at EVERY opportunity), but this blog, Simple mom has made me really think about going ahead and actually doing it (I will have to adjust when I go to South Africa in January for two months, where they make you pay for plastic bags - go South Africa!!). They have some really nice looking reusable bags. And even though I am not a mom, this looks like a blog that I will check up on regularly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beginner's English...

I haven't put pictures from my beginner's class for a while: I keep taking my camera and then forgetting to take photos... Anyway, tonight I finally remembered: here they are working HARD!

Just 4 more weeks and they will be finished and we will have our graduation ceremony and LOTS of pizza. The rule is that if your cell phone goes off during class you have to bring pizza for everyone: well everyone's phone (including to my shame, my own) has gone off sometime during the year, so we decided to have a pizza party (and some will bring cake instead) at the end of the year!

Chika Sergej

My colleague, Sergej, comes from the Ukraine and besides being a great teammate, he is also a great handyman to have around, especially with anything to do with things electric! Last year we changed all the light fittings in the house (well, actually Sergej did! Did I mention how much we love Sergej?) . While he was doing the one in the lounge last year, we were also looking after little Matej, who was just over 2 at the time. He just sat on the floor and was totally fascinated with "Chika Sergej" (Uncle Sergej) while he was fixing the light. About 2-3 months later his mom told me that she and another friend were talking about "Sergej" and when Matej heard the name, he said "Sergej" and pointed up at the light: it took her a little while for her to work out why!!

Anyway, today Sergej had to come and put another light fitting in the lounge as the other one was from the Chinese store and well, it burnt out (luckily without causing a fire!). This one was a little bit more expensive, but will also hopefully last a little bit more than a year!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

lunch at Dragana's

Yesterday, we were invited to a pita lunch at Dragana's house and we had a great time!! I am still full!

Here we are: Dragan, Sonja, Dragana, Ljilja, me and David:When Dragan and Sonja got married, they had Dragana and I help to put the traditional "buttonhole bouquets" on the guests at the wedding. The tradition is that the guests pay for them and the money goes to the girls who do the decorating. It ended up being quite a lot of money and they were insistent on us taking it: as it is the tradition. Neither of us were happy with this... In the end Dragan suggested to me that they could take the money and use it to buy a computer for Dragana: and so the scheme began without Dragana knowing about it!

So, now Dragana got a computer two weeks ago, this week connected to the internet and is having a great time chatting with people on msn, yahoo, skype etc. I told her that I would have to warn people on my blog that she is now out there and to take care!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Winter is coming...

The weather so far this autumn has been really amazing: we have all been amazed at how warm it is for this time of year. In fact I suddenly realised last week that by law I am supposed to have the snow chains in my car (from Oct 15-April 15) and I hadn't put them in yet. (I have now!)

This week has been pretty busy: what with coming back from Sarajevo on Monday (and going straight to a Parents' meeting for Fida's child sponsorship project) and Tuesday is always busy as we have our team meeting in the morning and English Class and the Club from 4.30-9.

On Wednesday morning we went to Sanski Most (about an hour and a half's drive away) to a meeting with two other churches in this area to pray. It was really encouraging to be together and to pray for each other. We got back by 3pm to have a meeting with Miika's new Fida bosses. It was nice to meet them and it looks like they will be great for this region.

Thursday was me trying frantically to finish my Bible school assignment (due Friday) in between everything else. I finished it on Friday morning and then decided I really needed to winterise my car: so I ran around getting tyres changed and checking antifreeze and changing oil. I must admit that even though it is a chore it isn't too bad because I have great mechanics and a nice tyre guy: and because I trust them I know that the car is in good hands. My mechanic even managed to fix the windscreen sprayer (which is such a little thing but you really can't drive in snow and rain without it) and even though it took a while didn't charge me for that!

So, now I am ready for winter and it probably won't come until after I leave for South Africa in January!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008


On the way back from Sarajevo, David and I needed to switch off driving and he wanted to treat us to coffee: so I suggested we stop off at "Plave Vode" (Blue Waters) in Travnik as it is really pretty there (and about 1/2 way on the 4 hour trip). Dragana said "how do you know about these places: you are always showing me these wonderful places in my own country. It is so shameful!!" Here she is in front of the "blue waters":We went out for coffee at the cafe near there: it was only after we sat down that we realised that it was right by the graveyard!! Then David ordered their "speciality" coffee without asking what it was: it was Bosnian (Turkish) Coffee, Turkish delight and to complete the experience: a box of matches and a cigarette!!

Only in Bosnia...

On the way back from Sarajevo today, we were behind this car at the inevitable stop for some roadworks: I had been trying to figure out what it was from afar, but this stop gave me an opportunity to see that it WAS parts of a car. My question is - how the heck did they get them in there? And WHY?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Free Hugs comes to Bosnia...

We went walking in downtown Sarajevo today and outside the Cathedral there was a guy with the "FREE HUGS" sign. I had seen the video on YOUTUBE: which was very inspiring, so I decided I had to get me one of these: Look at the official site for more information on this world-wide phenomenon...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sarajevo with David and Dragana

Ok, David was complaining that I hadn't had a post in a few days: he is always teasing me at my amazing blogging: he says I am a legend, but that I had let him down this week: so here is a post just for him!!

I am in Sarajevo for the weekend with Dragana and David. I will be going in on Monday to hand in the papers for my application for British Citizenship (through my mother!). David needed to come to Sarajevo to spend time with some of the EUS/IFES people down here and Dragana needed to go on Friday to Tuzla: so we combined all the trips and came together! It was a long trip yesterday via Tuzla, (almost 6 hours), but with good company it didn't feel quite so long!!

Today we just hung out with Enisa and others and David and Dragana went into town. In the evening we watched "National Treasure". Here are some pictures: Vedrana with Dragana: Enisa, David and Jessica: the EUS staff altogether: And later Vedrana's brother, Milan joined us: here they are together: I am sure we will have lots of fun for the rest of the weekend, before we head back to Banja Luka on Monday!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

David's House Warming

Ok, David had a party for our team (6 nationalities!!) tonight - just Olja and some of the kids missing - but the rest squishing into David's new place for a evening of Czech cuisine and fun!! At one stage we got to talking about saunas - which is interesting because of course the Ukrainians and Fins do it in the nude and the rest of us have a leeetle bit of a problem with that...It is a good thing that even with the cultural differences we really like each other and can joke at the discrepancies!!!

Here is everyone in David's bedroom/lounge: Sinisa, Miika, Mirjam, Jijska (who came to keep Vera company) and Lea. David, Ljilja, Ira, Vera and Sergej: The girls were so cute and had a lot of fun. Here they are with "teta" (auntie) Ljilja, their favourite: In David's apartment the toilet doesn't flush like it is supposed to, so he has invented the "Flushing Duck" to solve this problem:
If you can't read it, it says in 3 languages "Flushing Duck: Push the head first then push the tail" And it works!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Strategic planning...

Our team spent yesterday in a seminar all day on strategic planning: We had to work on a vision statement and a mission statement for our Humanitarian Organisation, "Most" (Bridge). Here it is:


"Istinitom putem do pravog zivota"

"By the true way to the right life"


"H.O. "Most" djeluje u Banja Luci i okolini kroz socialne i razvojne programe prema hriscanskim vrijednosti sa ciljem pozitivne promjene pojedinca i društvo u cjelini."

"H.O. "Most" works in Banja Luka and the surrounds through social and development programs according to Christian values with the goal of positive change in individuals and society as a whole."

It was nice to work as a team and put onto paper something like this for our organisation. We went on to work on strategic aims and actions plans and are very fired up for the next year!!!

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