Monday, June 29, 2009

English Classes...

I have two English Classes for beginners. One is for those that know some English and we go quite fast. And then one is for those that know very little: These photos are of the "real" beginners' class: We sit like this towards the board and work together around the tables. Bilja, Dragana and Dragan filling out something in the book together:Lidija, Zelimir, Darko and Ljubica working hard at an assignment:
As Fida is helping with some of the costs of the material for these classes, they wanted to find out if the people on the courses were satisfied with the classes. So, last week I gave out some evaluation questionnaires. It was really encouraging to hear that everyone is more than satisfied and not only enjoying the classes, but also learning a lot as well. Below are some of the (translated) comments...

I am satisfied because we are learning correct English pronunciation; the lecturer explains concepts from different angles, including comparison with the same concept in the Serbian language.

The lectures are wide and drawn from a great number of exercises which we do both orally and written with the possibility of asking questions.

I like the fact that Belinda tries really hard to ensure that each of us understands new material.

The lecturer tries hard, motivates and strives to make each of us take part in the conversation part of class.

I am happy with the classes because I learnt quite a lot in a short amount of time.

In this period since I started in the class, I have learnt such a lot. Thank-you so much for giving me this opportunity.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


For the past 9 months, I have been a part of the first FBSBS: the Field Based School of Biblical Studies. It takes YWAM School of Biblical Studies, which when taken full-time lasts 3 months, and stretches it out over 9 months as it is all part-time and internet based.

It has been a really interesting ride, andI have learnt a lot, not only about the Bible, but also about myself and God. I have really enjoyed it, but at times it has been really hard to find time to finish the assignments in time... Now that it is over, I am kind of at a loss as to what to do with all this "spare time" I will suddenly have... Actually, it has finished just in time as July is looking like it will be "crazy month" here!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sour Cream...

In South Africa we have one kind of Sour Cream and that is pretty much it... Here in Bosnia they have many different kinds of sour cream, from 12%, to 20%, to 40% and about every kind of size you can imagine, up to 1kg! They really like their sour cream here, and have it with pretty much EVERYTHING: including pizza!

To give you an idea of the importance of sour is a pic of the shelves in the fridge in my local LITTLE supermarket. Except for the bottom layer which are milk and drinking jogurt and on the left you can see little chocolate and strawberry puddings, this is ALL JUST SOUR CREAM!!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Only in Bosnia...

Ok, I am busy trying to close down Sergej's organisation (which he didn't have time to finish before went back to the Ukraine). I have a power of attorney and have been trying to sort out with the people at the court what I need to give them, etc. They eventually decided that I needed a letter from the US (from the organisation there that founded the branch here). I got the letter and had it translated at an "official" court translator and handed it in about 5 weeks ago already.

That is when the "let's go to the court every Wednesday game" began. They are only open on Wednesdays between 9-11am. So I would go (well Ljilja went for me one week as I was in Sanski Most for the day) and ask what was up and the poor guy would tell me "well I don't really know"... Then finally today he was able to tell me that his boss didn't like the translation of the letter. It was not one of the AUTHORISED official court translators... Yes, I kid you not! What the heck is an "official" court translator that is NOT "authorised"? What is the point of that?

So, of course, I just laughed and asked the poor guy in the office where to go and even he didn't know... and then I asked at the court "information booth" and even that guy had to ask someone else as he didn't know!!! So, how the heck am I supposed to know which translators are "authorised" and which are only "official"...

And even though I have now handed in the correct translation and everything else that I need, the "let's go to court on Wednesday" game will continue until the Court President deigns to sign the "rjesenje" and as they say here "ask God" when that will be as it isn't going to be any time soon!!! And you just have to keep going in and checking each week until it is signed...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Plitvicka Jezera (Lakes)

On our way back from Zadar (see below post) we decided to go to Plitvicka Jezera... It was "kind of" on the way and all of us were really glad we went. They are absolutely beautiful, but because we only had 3 or so hours, we probably only saw about 1/4 of what there is to see... we really did enjoy the bit that we did see:Pictures really don't do it justice...
Beautiful lakes, stunning waterfalls:
Lovely little fishies:
And some lovely photo ops:
Highly recommended! And I think we will be going back to see the rest...

Zadar and Bibinje

Ljilja, Dragana and I just had a well-deserved 5-day break in Bibinje near Zadar on the Croatian coast. We had a great time together, and enjoyed lovely, sunny weather and very uncrowded beaches, as the "season" hasn't really started yet...

We stayed in Ivana's family's house in Bibinje, about 12kms from the city of Zadar. We made good use of the beaches in Bibinje, and also went into Zadar one day and most evenings, and got to know the city inside and out. Here are Ljilja and Dragana at the entrance gate to the city:And here are Ljilja and I in front of the church of Sveti Donat:
We found a great little restaurant, which wasn't that expensive for lunch...
We also made it to the Marina in Bibinje and Ljilja even found a yacht from the US:
We also went to Bibinje to watch the "world famous" sunset (Ivana told us it is supposed to be the best on the Croatian coast). It was really pretty as it was over the sea... Here are Dragana and I in front of a little boat we found...
Ljilja and Dragana just outside Zadar's gate:
Ljilja and I with the sun setting over Zadar... after seeing this sunset, I think Bibinje has competition...
One of the things that Zadar is famous for is their "sea organ". Yes, it is an organ which is played by the sea. It is pretty cool. You can sit on it and listen to it. We were there at night, during the day, but we discovered that the best time is definitely sunset. Here is a short recording to try to show you what it is like...

All-in-all we had a good, relaxing time and came back ready for life back in the fast lane known as Banja Luka!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Orphanage fun....

Tonight there were 9 of us (including Jessica) who went to the orphanage to run the English Club. It was so much nicer with a big group of helpers - the kids were less noisy and more cooperative, but as always, it was loud and messy. However, it is actually great to see that more actual learning took place!! We did various games, including a memory game in groups, and our favourites: "head shoulders" and "simon says".

David went around taking photos (and video - see below), which was really great. Here are some of us playing a memory game with body parts in English. All the kids sitting down and being (mostly) quiet. Great achievement!!Here I am (again) with Duska, the carer who makes this all possible by letting us use her "family's" living room for all the kids to invade. You can see our great paint job in the background.
And to give you a real taste of what it is like: here is a short video of us doing Head and Shoulders:

I think the most important thing about going is not that the kids learn English, but that they know that someone cares enough about them to come and give them a fun time! Now, talking about caring for them: there are 8 other "family areas" in the home, but this one has become our stomping ground. We helped them to paint it, and now I would really love to help them get new furniture. The home does not have any money for anything like this, but it really wouldn't take much to get them some new furniture. Let us help the now 13 children (out of the 70 in the orphanage) that will be living in this little space will be able to feel like this is a home. If anyone is able to help me with this project, please comment on this post! Let us help them make a home for themselves...

Sunday, June 07, 2009


Jessica is here visiting from EUS in Sarajevo and she was with us this morning for our monthly church service. Even though we are a small church, even she admits that we have something special. I also really enjoyed this morning's service, the worship was great and we all stuck around afterwards and hung out together which was really fun. Here is a pic during the worship: We love having Jessica here, even though her stay is short. Tonight is movie night!


Ok, so Ljilja got some pics showing how much the wind was blowing here yesterday... Luckily the guy in the car was ok: unfortunately his car was NOT!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


Today in Banja Luka it has been unusually windy for here. This would probably be a normal "everyday" southeaster in Cape Town, but here it causes general panic!! I guess in Cape Town the houses are more built with the wind in mind: In my folks' house for instance all the outside doors have hooks to keep them open and it is mostly walk-through archways within the house.

Here on the other hand, there is none of that and doors slamming cause structural damage to the house!!! (Also as a side note, I will have to mention that they seriously don't like the draft/crossbreeze/promaja/propuh: here it is general panic stations if you are sitting in a draft: you will catch your death of cold/get a sore neck/ear infection, etc, etc. So having to deal with drafts in these proportions is also probably causing a lot of panic everywhere...)

My Birthday...

I had a good, but long day on my birthday on Wednesday... I got up early so that Ljilja and I could spend some time together before I headed out with Sinisa to Sanski Most (about 1 ½ hours away) for a meeting for all the people who work with Dorcas Aid's Income and Employment projects. Although the meeting was 5 hours long, we had a barbecue/braai afterwards which kind of made up for it. Also, Viki (the Bosnia country coordinator) had organised an icecream cake for me which made us ALL happy!

After getting back and getting the car from the mechanic (where Ljilja had left it earlier in the day - yip again it needed to be fixed: I think the fact that my mechanic recognises my phone number when I call is enough said about the car!!) I discovered that we were having a (nother) barbecue/braai with church people to day goodbye to one of our members who is leaving... So, I got to have two braai/barbecues and cakes (well the second wasn't for me) without having to organise anything myself - can't complain about that!!

On Thursday I got to have a quieter day, which I needed!! In the evening, after my beginners' class, we had a little "party" at English Club and it was great as so many came who haven't been for a while, so it was lovely to catch up with them all.

And of course I forgot to take my camera to any of this, so you will just have to take my word for it!!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Budapest and learning stuff about myself...

I realised on this trip to Budapest that I have changed a lot living cross-culturally. Right now in Bosnia I am so proficient (PTL) in the language that it doesn't stress me to be here and using the language, because I am often taken for a local. So it is only when I go to a language that I don't know that I remember all that language learning stuff... (and PTL that I am no longer there!)

Now, in Budapest I was helping to organise a conference for almost 60 people in a place I had never been, and in a language I didn't know. Luckily a lot of people spoke English, but in many places I was speaking "hand and feet" (which I am luckily quite proficient in - you try explaining "safety pin" and "moldling clay" and see how you do!).

But I did realise that after living cross-culturally for so long it really doesn't phase me to go out and find my way (at least with a reliable map!) in a city I don't know and not knowing the language... I did pick up a couple of words of Hungarian, including that "butchy-butchy" means "excuse me" - yip, seriously! Comes in handy in the tram crush!


I just returned from Budapest where I had a great time at the Central European Leadership Gathering. For more information on that you can see the article I wrote for the ywamce website.

I was helping to organising the conference, which I really enjoyed, but I didn't have that much time to go site-seeing...but I did get to see some things:

Here I am with one of my fellow-organisers, Rebecca, who works in the Czech Republic, in front of the Houses of Parliament:And with the other part of the organising team, Rodney, who works in Holland (and with whom I worked in Zenica oh so many years ago - good times!!)The whole organising team in front of the Vajdahunyad Castle:
We were on a boat of the Danube for the rest of the time, and it was really great place to have a conference, but the funny thing is after spending a week on the boat, I am now feeling "landsick"!

Here we are in the conference room on the boat during a session where we used skype to hear from Tim Svoboda who works in San Francisco - technology is amazing!!
We had some time to get off the boat and had fun, here are some of us out for icecream: Wolfgang and his "harem":me, Edita, Brandi, Rosie and Rebecca:
All in all it was a busy, but fun time. It was great hanging out with old friends, and working again with Rodney and Rebecca.

For more photos see this link
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