Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Ok, what? That is actually "HAPPY NEW YEAR" in Finnish if you put it through an online translator... I know this because my colleague, Lea, put "Onnellista uutta vuotta!" on her facebook status and wanting to know what it meant I used a translator: and "Bless Leach Skin" is what came out on the other side... so, I asked her what it ACTUALLY means and she told me "Happy New Year" so this year instead of saying "Happy New Year" I am going to say "Bless Leach Skin!" because frankly it makes as much sense as saying "Happy New Year" (but let's not go THERE...)

Now back to finishing up year-end reports! Oh HAPPY DAY!!

Hope your 2009 will be blessed and fruitful and joyful, overflowing with the knowledge of God's love and all He did for you in 2008!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Package distribution at the Children's Home:

We went this morning to hand out packages at the Children's Home. I didn't want to just hand them out, but instead thought it would be great if we could organise something more fun for the kids as well... So we put together a little program and the English Club got involved as well (although sadly in the end only Sofija and Zvjezdana ended up actually coming as many couldn't make it :-( )

As Zvjezdana, who was supposed to be leading the program, was very late, I stepped in and became the "angel" (see if you can spot my halo below) and introduced each "act" and explained where the packages come from and here I was explaining about the packages and the little comic book which goes with them - about the "The Biggest Present in the World" (ie Jesus!):Here are Nemanje and Damir watching the program (yes, all the kids are CUTE!): When I originally shared this plan with Lea she told me about a "Magic bag" that she has through which you can tell the whole Christmas story: and so we decided to do it for the kids! Here she is explaining the bag with Sofija translating: The Christmas story characters are supposed to be in the bag, but they have disappeared: hidden somewhere in the room. So all the kids have to get up and try and find them and if they find them go up front. It gets all the kids involved: here is Lea with most of the kids up front and Sofija doing a wonderful job of LOUDLY translating what Lea was explaining!
In the end, the kids put the characters into the bag and they all come out tied together in order!!! Magic! (most still don't know how it works, and I am NOT telling!)
We were supposed to have another play which the English Club members were wanting to do: but unfortunately the main characters were unable to make it at the last minute so it was cancelled:-( but we still had enough entertainment after Lea's "magic bag". First we were treated to Jijska and Dina (from Finland) singing a Finnish song: and they did a great job!
And after that David shared his "magic" trick with the three ropes: telling the kids that God loves them no matter what!Then the best part, the handing out of the packages: Here is Dina handing out the comic books:
Zvjezdana giving Luka his package:
Me giving Gaga her present...

As you can see she didn't want any help and insisted on holding it by herself - it is almost bigger than her!!!
Here is Una with her package:
And Mladen with his:
All-in-all it worked out great despite MANY last minute changes... and most important the kids (and their carers) had a great time!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Visiting Marina...

We finally went to go see Marina, Ljilja and Sveto's baby, who was born in September... It is actually quite embarrassing that we haven't gone to see her yet (as tradition here is to go within the first 40 days) but it was really difficult for Dragana, Ljilja and I to all find free time when they are also free... anyway we decided we had to go today otherwise who knows when we will go...

Here is Ljilja with her and, yes, she is a cutie!!
We had a great time catching up with them and seeing her - unfortunately my camera stopped working for some reason (it is now working again - very weird) - so this is the only picture we have... but you get the idea! :-)

English Club Christmas party...

So, we had the English Club over at our place for a party last night. It was really fun... Here I am with Ceca and Sanja (about to serve the pumpkin and lemon meringue pie):Here is a wider shot of all of us (thanks Ljilja for the great photo taking!):
Me with Aleksandra and Sofija:
With Stasa:
David interviewing Igor: got some great video, but haven't managed to download it yet:
With Mirna:
Aleksandra, Sanja and Ceca enjoying the brownies...
Me with Sofija and Stasa: After we had eaten our full, and we had popped the Christmas Crackers, I brought out my guitar, and we started singing Christmas Carols - which was great! Once we got bored with that, we then carried on singing Bosnian songs: Ceca made me a book with chords for my birthday (what a great gift!) and it came in handy!! My fingers are a little sore from playing now: but I must admit it was really fun!! I think everyone had a great time!


Saturday, we had two more distributions of Christmas packages for the Fida sponsorship project: We had to have two to be able to fit everyone in: so two more times of watching "The Toy who saved Christmas" (Vegetails rock!) and hanging out with families before we distributed the packages.

Here is Mirjam (from Finland) with Srbo and his four kids. He is a single father (which is VERY unusual here) as his wife died when the youngest was just 4 months old.Here is Ljilja with two of our favourite kids: Bojana (who is the sponsored child) and her sister Zorana:
I left the second distribution early so I could get home to prepare for the Christmas party for the English Club - more on that in the next post!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Graduation for Beginner's English Class...

Ok, we have a tradition in our classes: if your mobile phone goes off you have to bring pizza or cake to make up for it. During the year, pretty much everyone's (including my) phone had gone off and so I told everyone that they had to make something and bring it along for our graduation party... I baked up a storm - I made double of everything as I am having another party tomorrow night for the English Club: Pumpkin pie, Lemon meringue pie and brownies!!!Here we are with our sumptious spread: and some husbands and kids as well...
Ljilja came for a bit and hung out with Mihajlo - our youngest class member:Here are the graduates and their diplomas: Mirela, Stana, Zeljka, Bozana, Tanja and Sedina in front. Merima our seventh graduate couldn't make it...
Now, I have a fun story: I have a problem with pronouncing "Zeljka" as I can't get the "lj" in the middle of the word: so she became known as "Zelka"... and this was a bit of a class joke... When I was typing out the diplomas I somehow mistyped and so she became "Zelka" on that as well! I will fix it - but it was pretty funny as it was totally unconscious!!

It is actually kind of sad to have to finish the year as we have had a great time together - and it is great to see people who at the beginning of the year couldn't even say "hello my name is..." talking up a storm in English now!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Here is our tree with ALL the presents for Christmas. Dragana stayed the night last night so we could all get up this morning and open our presents. Ljilja woke us up by putting "Jingle Bells" very loudly on the CD player. Obnoxious! We have now opened the presents and had a lovely apple pancake breakfast - soon we will go out for lunch at Restaurant Jezero. What a great way to have a nice relaxed Christmas day!!

And not forgeting that the greatest gift came down from heaven over 2000 years ago on this day!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa pic...

I spotted this Santa in Banja Luka and sent a pic of him to my Dad, who added the caption (it is his specialty!)... Enjoy!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Party for Sponsorship Kids

This afternoon, we had our first of three parties for the FIDA Sponsorship kids. The other two will be next Saturday. We had the Samaritan's Purse packages to hand out and the Christmas cards from each of their "Godparents" (sponsors) in Finland. Ljilja spent most of last night setting up stuff and we went back today to finish and I think it turned out really nice (The paintings on the wall are from the Kids' art workshop that was run this semester): It was really packed as you can see: We watched a translated version of Vegetails' "The Toy who saved Christmas" on the BIG screen (for some of the kids it was the first time to see something on a big screen!) before we had eats and drinks etc. We then handed out the parcels. Here is Ljilja with one of the families (Helena is the sponsorship child, on Ljilja's lap - but all the kids in each family get packages - wouldn't be fair otherwise!):
And here is a picture of us and the tree with Dragana which I promised her I wouldn't put on my blog, but it so cute that I couldn't resist (sorry Dragana!):One of the things that we were reminded in the video is the "real meaning of Christmas" is to remember God's love shown to us in Jesus. I know that sometimes in the rush and hustle and food and celebrating, we tend to forget that...

Friday, December 19, 2008


Nikoljdan is Saint Nicholas' Day and it is a BIG saint's day here - this means that many families have him as their patron saint and so either people are celebrating the day or they are at someone's house celebrating!!.

It is also the day when children usually get packages (instead of for Christmas) and so it was really great for me to be able to go to a school today and hand out packages with Sergej and David. We did a little talk about Christmas and David a little demonstration about how much God loves us in each classroom before handing out the packages to the very excited kids:Here are Jelena and Bozidar who are very happy with their packages:
Then later, Ljilja and I went to go celebrate Nikoljdan with Olja and Nenad and baby Andrijana (who is getting really big!) Here are Olja and Andrijana: And with me(by this stage Andrijana was sick of looking into the camera!):
I also finally had a chance today to put up the Christmas tree! I think I did a pretty good job:I even put up all my angels at the top to make a "choir of angels" which I think is pretty funky! I wanted to remind myself of the angels singing "GLORY to GOD in the HIGHEST"!!!All in all it has been a pretty good Nikoljdan!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I was tagged with this list on a friend's Blog - if you read this and have your own blog, consider yourself tagged! Go on, put it it on your blog too!

Anything I have done is BOLDED with comments in red underneath.

I hope you enjoy finding out a bit more about me...look forward to seeing yours!!

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band

Worship team at Church: guitar and bass

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

Camp Rio, Croatia, 1999, AMAZING!

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/World

Went to Disneyworld with my parents when I was 23…it was interesting!

8. Climbed a mountain
Table Mountain in Cape Town count?

9. Held a praying mantis

Not difficult for me as we have loads of them in Cape Town.

10. Sang a solo

And sung a duet in front of 1000 people YFC Camp 1990!

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

Been in the airport only... hate that airport

13. Watched a lightning storm

On the beach once over the ocean even - amazing!

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

No, but I was at the bottom

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

Technically I didn’t sleep as I can’t on moving things: but I have been on two 25 hour trips on trains from Cape Town to Johannesburg and back (remember that trip Jax and Nikki!)

21. Had a pillow fight


22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

no comment :-)

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

no comment :-)

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset


31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

And went on the Maid of the Mist from both sides

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

Been to see where my Grandmother was born in London (it was a pub and I left my A-Z there by mistake…) and to Aberdeen where my Great-Grandfather was from

35. Seen an Amish community

No, but I did have an Amish girl on one of the teams I have hosted!

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (this seems like an oxymoron)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

I am from there!!

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

Once spent the night on a beach for New Year’s

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

Snorkeling at Lake Malawi

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

Those were the days…

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

Hermanus near Cape Town – land based whale watching! And I even swam about 50m from a whale once!

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

No, but I have been IN one

69. Saved my favorite childhood toy.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

Albeit a little one

73. Stood in Times Square

My folks and I stayed in a hotel around the corner from Times Square!

74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

With Helen in 1997 – after being in London 6 months!

77. Broken a bone

I broke my femur by falling out of a high chair when I was 9 months: so I don’t remember a thing!

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

More than once…this year I am trying to do it in one year…

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

I helped anyway: held it down and then plucked it – a chicken called Henrietta on DTS outreach

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

So go out and multiply this on your blogs!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Saint Nicholas Show:

Tonight, Lea, Ceca and I went to the Children's Home's Saint Nicholas program: St Nick is the patron saint of Children: so it is the logical choice for a Children's home's patron saint as well!

Here his Saint's day is on Friday so the children and their carers prepared a little show to celebrate it. Most all of the 70 kids were involved in the show in some way. From the barely walking 1 years (who gave us a fashion show!!) to the teenagers who did a great job of telling jokes in their act.

Here are some pictures: Maja and Darko waltzing:Danijela telling us a story:
The preschoolers who recited poems both individually like Maida below and altogether (which was really cute!)
The 8-11 year olds telling us how St Nicholas takes care of children all around the world:
And below is Neven, Mladenka, Berta and Nemanje (with the cute mustache!) acting out the story of the old clock.
We had a really nice time and I am glad we made the effort to be there as the kids were all delighted to see us there!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Filip's birthday...

Ok, it is Filip's 3rd birthday today: I can't believe it! He, for those that don't know, is our landlady's grandson and is as bright as a button. See other posts about his birth, and some reflections on his last birthday.

We went to Tropic to buy his present (and other things) and actually ran into him (with his dad!) there - so he picked out part of his present: a very cool shirt. We also got him a car, which he loves. Here he is with Ljilja showing off his shirt and the car (which you can't quite see!):
When he was born, we gave him a white fluffy sheep and it is still his favourite toy and goes with him EVERYWHERE: so he is not quite so white nor fluffy anymore!! But nothing can replace "Blake" the sheep!

Then it was time for the cake: Here he is trying to blow out his BIG candle!! (with his mom, Sladja) And not to forget his little brother, Marko who is 9 months: here with his grandma (who refused to look at the camera!), our landlady Zivka: We really feel privileged because this family has really become like family to me and Ljilja: it isn't like we are renters, more like we are part of the family...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Art Exhibition at Government Buildings...

Stasha: one of the English Club members told us that she had a couple of paintings in an exhibition at the Government Buildings so of course we had to go check that out. It was David, Mladen, Stasha and I: Here are the others in front of our new 200 Million KM Government Buildings!!There were probably about 50 paintings in the exhibition in the hallways of the offices of the Ministry of Culture. It was all young "up and coming" artists from all over the country. Stasha is actually studying journalism because you can't really make money as an artist: but it is her passion as you can see!!

Here she is with one of her paintings:
And the other two...
We had a good time looking at the paintings and were even treated to juice by the person running the exhibition. So it was really nice way to spend an afternoon!
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