Sunday, November 29, 2009

Natasha from Albania...

The last few days, Natasha from Albania has been staying with us. She came with a group from Fida Albania to learn how to do the Fida Child Sponsorship program for which Ljilja is the local coordinator. So on Friday Ljilja and others held a seminar for them (and she did a great job I hear!) and on Saturday we took them on visits to some of the families in the project (there are 50 families in total) before watching the Floorball tournament and having a very late lunch (well, dinner really!) altogether.

Here at lunch/dinner are Natasha and Ljilja with little Esi from Finland who came with her mom:After Natasha left this morning I was looking at our guest book and realised that including Russia, India and Australia, we have had at least 15 different nationalities who have stayed with us over the years... The majority are Bosnia-Hercegovinians, followed closely by Americans and South Africans... and a few Finns (one of which we lost!). But never mind what nationality, almost all of them have been fun to have around!

Friday, November 27, 2009

lowest form of TV?

Here in Bosnia everyone has loved what they call "Spanska serija" (Spanish soap operas) for years. There is always at least one or two really popular ones that everyone is watching. They are either from Spain or from Argentina/Latin America. I think it just proves how similar the two cultures are that they are so popular here.

Now, recently of course the reality TV phenomenon has also taking hold here with Big Brothers and Survivors becoming very popular. One that has now in its second season is "Farma" or the Farm. It is from Serbia and very popular here. The other day Ljilja was watching and I realised that they have maybe come up with a new low for TV...

They are actually producing a fake "Spanska serija" on the Farma reality show. So the people on the Farm not only have to look after the cows etc, but write, act in and produce their own "Spanska serija"! They have taken the names from all the popular shows over the years "Esmeralda", "Cassandra", etc and although it is in the local language, the (over) acting is just as bad as in the Spanish soap operas...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ATV Interview

Funny story really: I was waiting to see myself on TV (how many times in my life will I be able to say that?!!): as they had been vague as to when it would be (sometime on the Morning program between 8 and 9.30am), I had waited over an hour by the time I eventually came on... So when I finally came on, I pushed record on the video and just as I said one sentence...poooof... out goes the electricity in the neighbourhood (it sometimes does that for like 2-5 minutes at a time).

Yip, for the 2 minutes that I was on the TV I couldn't a) see myself nor b) record myself to watch later because we didn't have electricity for the *2 minutes* that I was on the TV. (it came on as soon as I went off). There really is only one word for that "BAKSUZ"

But I believe in a God who makes all things good: i.e. He takes bad situations and makes them somehow good. So, in this bad situation I told the reporter about missing myself on TV and she made me a copy of the program (yay!). I have put English subtitles on it and I am now able to share it with all of you so you also get to see me! (hopefully you think this is good!)

p.s. it was supposed to be about foreigners in Banja Luka and David and Miika were also included, but in the end it was just me... maybe they will be on later shows: not sure?

p.p.s. see if you can spot the mistakes that the reporter made (!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gorgeous Blogger award

My friend Miranda has tagged me with the Gorgeous Blogger Award. I don't know whether it is meant that I am gorgeous or whether my blog is gorgeous: but I am going to go with both :-)

Now in order to receive this award I need to tell you 6 things that you don't know about me. And then tag 6 friends for the same honour... This isn't going to be easy as there aren't many things that I haven't shared with at least someone who reads my blog... but here goes:

1) I sucked my thumb every night to fall asleep until I was 9 years old and only gave up when my tonsils were taken out as it was too sore to suck! (PTL I still have straight teeth!)

2) I lived the first 21 years of my life in the same two streets in Claremont, Cape Town: we lived until I was 5 in St Ledger's Road and then moved two streets over to Chaucer Rd, where my parents still live.

3) Since then I have travelled to 27 countries (not so many in YWAM terms!) on three continents: Africa, Europe and North America. And all that on a South African passport - now we will see what I can do on my British!

4) I completed a Bachelor of Business Science degree at the University of Cape Town, majoring in Human Resources in 1995 - yip ages ago! In order to finish the degree I did a group thesis with 3 other people: we did an analysis of Deloitte and Touche's Affirmative Action program. We even did a presentation before their Board of executors! I am currently working on my Masters in Community Development through YWAM's University of the Nations.

5) As many of you know, I don't (well, can't) drink coffee (not easy to do in a coffee culture like Bosnia) instead I am pretty much addicted to black tea ("normal" in South Africa) with milk (very unusual here). I even carry around my own tea bags just in case. There is one cafe here which does have good black tea, but sometimes they run out. When they do, I ask if I can use my teabag... it has got to the stage that when I come to order the waiter sees me coming and says "we are out, do you have your teabag?" before I have even said anything!

6) When I went on my first plane trip by myself, I made the mistake of telling my mother that I was nervous about finding my way around the airport to the plane. She grabbed the guy behind me at the security clearance and told him to look after me through to the gate... I was 21 and almost a University Graduate at the time! (how embarrassing!). Now I don't have any qualms (or much choice really) when travelling all over by myself...

Now, who to tag: in no particular order: my gorgeous blog awards go to: Nicole, Taryn, David, Shilo, Becky, and Greg and Erin. So, once you read this you need to do the same thing on your blogs!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zenica Trip...

I went to Zenica on Thursday on the train. I got to stay with my good friends Tiffany (who is looking very happily pregnant) and Sladjan on Thursday night. On Friday I hung out with my former team leaders: Max and Liz and then with other friends, Beth and Jeff. At 2, I went to do what I had really come to do (although getting to hang out with friends is a nice part of it!): train people in how to start their own business!

I was asked by Dejana (with her husband, my good friend Mario below) to come and train using the program that I learnt this summer from Laura: They work for LERC in Zenica, an NGO with whom we have a joint sponsor (ie we both have projects that are sponsored by the same organisation: Dorcas Aid International) and because of this we have been doing some seminars and joint activities together. This is another opportunity to strengthen the working relationship between our organisations.The program is a game which is played with three teams competing against each other. Here I am with one of the teams checking the quality of their product (part of the process!):
I ran two modules (Friday night/Saturday morning) now and the other two will be in two weeks time (yip another trip to Zenica in my near future!). In between, the participants are giving a 10KM ($8/R60) loan so they can start their own business. Below are one of the teams in the game with Djemka (right) who also works for LERC.
It was really good to be able to train with this material as it really teaches through experiential learning and it is fun seeing the lights go on. Also, of course, the more I use it the better I will become at it. Also I am teaching the LERC people so they can eventually train by themselves (and I won't have to keep going to Zenica!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TV Interview!!!!

So, this morning they called me from "Alternativna Televisija" to see if I would mind being interviewed for a segment about my life here as a foreigner. Of course I said "YES!" They came and interviewed me at the office and we went outside and had the river in the background so people could see that we were actually in Banja Luka!

They asked things like "What is your favourite Bosnian food" (Pita and Sarma with Rashtan), "was it hard to learn the language" (PTL not so much: I enjoy it!), "do you find the winters hard" (yip, but then I get to go home every other year for summer instead of winter :-) and other stuff like that...

Afterwards I mentioned that I worked with other foreigners and offered to get a hold of them. I called Miika first (he lives near the office) and he just happened to be with David, so both of them came and gave an interview as well! David asked me to take a pic of him (there was no one there when I was being interviewed :-() and here it is: And yes that is David wearing shorts in NOVEMBER. It has been really warm lately, but even so: everyone was looking at him funny all day! The interviews will be on Saturday on the morning show and I will hope the timer works on the VCR as none of us will actually be in town this weekend!

English Homework help...

Instead of the English Club at the orphanage, we have been going in each week and working with some of the younger kids that do English in school: helping them with their English homework.

Last night it was just Lea, David and I. David and I helped the 4th graders: he took "little" David and Branislav. I was helping sisters, Dijana and Dejana, who are in the foreground:Lea was working with the 5th graders: Maja and Ceca:
Depending on how many people we get to come along, the children get more one-on-one help. It is better this way, because the kids that really need help are now getting it, and I can see that learning is taking place. The club was fun and the kids were learning something, but this way the ones that really need help are getting help. I think we will still do the "club" sometimes, as the kids really enjoyed it: but for now we are sticking to helping these kids keep up with the rest of their English class!

Monday, November 16, 2009

YWAM Communication

One of the "hats" that I wear in my life is being part of the YWAM Central European Communication Team. My role in this team is to I handle the administration and much of the writing for the Central European Region of YWAM International. YWAM is divided up into Fields (like Europe or Africa) and Regions (like Western and Central Europe, Southern Africa). Our Region is from Poland to Greece and Austria to Romania. Our leader is based in Budapest, and the rest of the Communication team is all over the place as well (we are a "virtual" team - doing everything by email and Skype).

So for example, the workshop in Budapest was put on by the CE Comm Team and that is why I was a part of that. Another thing that we do is put out a quarterly newsletter about what is happening in the region. Here is the latest one for Autumn/Fall 2009. Over the past two years, some of the articles I have written for that have been put on (which is the main website for YWAM worldwide) Click here to read one. Recently, I have been helping to organise the Central European 50th Celebrations (YWAM is turning 50 next year!) and trying to figure out when and where we will be having them!

It usually doesn't take up much of my time, and is something I enjoy being a part of as I love writing and am blessed to be gifted in the area of administration! And in this way I can be a part of something beyond what I am doing in Banja Luka: helping to get the word out about what is happening not only here, but in Central Europe and beyond!

Friday, November 13, 2009

More pictures...

It is finally all fixed up and cleaned and ready for its first showing: The photos were taken at the train station when Ljilja dropped me off to catch the train to Sarajevo:

And we are sooo happy! You should have seen the two of us this morning: like two kids with a new toy! I unfortunately didn't know we would be getting a car when I planned the Sarajevo trip and so I will be missing the first few days of having the car :-( I couldn't take it to Sarajevo as we are still waiting for new tyres (winter ones) and the ones we are want are out of stock - but should come in hopefully tomorrow. But the train is great and I will be back on Sunday, so we can really celebrate then!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Yip, we got a car! For the boys it is an Opel Astra 2004 1.6 with 63000KM on the clock, and for the girls it is dark metallic silver! We got it from a friend of a friend and it only cost 13500KM (about $10000 or R76000). Ljilja won't allow me to take pics of it until we have it cleaned, but here is a similar car for those who are interested: I will post pics as soon as possible!

For those of you that have been following the saga since my Peugeot was stolen, this is the same car that we wanted to buy new (but that was almost twice the price)! But since the paperwork on the guarantor wasn’t coming through we started looking around at other cars a couple of weeks ago. But each time we would find something we thought we would take, it would have some drawback or be too expensive… We were starting to get really despondent...then on Monday morning our friend Mirko contacted us to say his friend had this car for sale and were we still looking… The problem was the car was in Gradiska (about 45mins away)… Ljilja went with our mechanic friend Dragan to check things out on Monday night: and in the end Ljilja “bought” it without me even seeing it (I was at the orphanage for our English Club there).

It is everything we wanted at a price we can afford! I really believe that God has given us this car in a miraculous way as this really is soooooo out of the ordinary to find such a good car at such an amazing price! PTL! Also when we started looking we decided to go with the new car and financing because we really didn’t have any money to buy a good second-hand car. In the meantime, the Lord has provided for us to have this money (which is almost double what we had two months ago!) So I can truly testify that God really came through and now we have a car that is way better than my Peugeot ever was!

The car will be Ljilja's car (she had the bulk of the money and will pay me back) but I will get to use it. We will share expenses. This is the exact arrangement we had with my Peugeot but in reverse! It is also the car that she dreamed of having from when it came out and always thought that she would never be able to have it. So, you can imagine how blessed she is feeling right now that God provided the actual car that she wanted! It really was worth the wait!

So, as we were busy yesterday we only managed to go and get it today from Gradiska. It is now at Dragan's (the mechanic's) so that he can give it a service and make sure that everything is alright before we even start using it. I think that for both of us that things haven't really sunk in yet that we finally have a car and that it is such an amazing one!!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

It's snowing...

This is the view from the office where I am until my beginner's English starts in an hour and a half. I am waiting for people to come and discuss their business plans - in between our team meeting this morning and English Class/Club tonight. I will be here until about 9pm and am not really looking forward to going home by bus/walking: unfortunately I didn't know it was going to snow and so am not wearing my waterproof boots, but luckily I am just going home so even if I get wet feet it won't be for long!

Ljilja are now actively looking at cars as we have decided we can't be patient anymore. We really need one: just as a for instance, it took me over an hour yesterday to get to the Orphanage and back: so quite frustrating. Not that I mind, it is just such a long time to get anywhere especially when you are used to getting there and back in 20 minutes! Had a great time with the kids though: so that made up for it!!
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