Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Goodbye Branka, sniff sniff

Branka (second from left above), who has been part of the English Club for two years, leaves today to go study in Novi Sad, Serbia. So, never to pass up the chance for a party, we organised to have a little "send off" for her.

It was just great! I couldn't have worked it out better if I had tried!! Luckily she arrived a little late... We had hidden all the "stuff" in the kitchen and were acting like it was a normal English Club... As there was a new person, to start the club we went around and introduced ourselves and I was asking everyone a question from a list (e.g "if you had a year to live what would you change" or "if you could travel anywhere where would you go", etc). Branka was last and so I looked at the list like I was reading her question off and said "So do you really think we would let you go off to Novi Sad without having a party for you?"!!! How fun!

Poor David was the cat amongst the pigeons so to speak (he took the pic of all us girls!). We really need to get more guys in the club!! And despite it coming at the end of a VERY long day, it was a very good way to give Branka a lovely send off and I am so chuffed that it worked out so well!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Man, what a weeeeeek

But I have achieved a lot: I finally finished the paperwork for Sergej's organisation! Yes, it took FOUR MONTHS to close it down (well technically 5 including the month he worked on it before he left!). This week, in between everything else going on I managed to track down (FINALLY) the guy at the tax office who had his papers (who then told me he definitely DIDN'T have them, and then miraculously found them under other papers once his boss told him that they were definitely with him...). Anyway, once I had caught him out he was really helpful and got them done right away :-)

The week started on a low because of my mom leaving... but PTL after a couple of days of being kept quite busy with other admin things -it is time for our project proposals for next year to be sent in- (and of course my English Classes) I got over that! I also spent a night in Zagreb for a meeting (it was really fun too and worth the drive there and back!) and then on Saturday we went to a Roma village (about an hour from BL) where a group of us spent time with the people sharing about the God of the Bible with them. We also sang some songs with them (they loved that!) and gave out some humanitarian aid. They are so excited to hear about God and how He wants to have a part in their lives, it was very encouraging for us all. Here are some pics:

Singing along with us:
Such a cutie: looking a little lost:Srdjan, who has been coming to this village for many years and is the reason we went a long on Friday to help him out, handing out books about the God of the Bible for people to read:Sinisa with two of the village "baba"s or "grannies": The house in the background belongs to someone who lives and works in Germany!
Here is Ljilja, as usual surrounded by kids, at one of the houses in the village where we were for coffee:
Now, see if you can spot David's arm: it is in two of the above photos!! But I don't have a photo of him or Miika who was also with us...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mom's whistle stop visit...

Yes, Mom has already left, it went by so quickly! It was great having her here, but it was really sad to put her on the bus to Zagreb this morning. We did make really really good use of the time while she was here:

Besides her taking loads of random pictures including this one of our neighbourhood chess set - they have them all over for people to play:We also hung out with my landlady and her family: here below with me outside the house. The lower balcony is mine and Ljilja's and my landlady is upstairs... You can see the lovely flowers on the balcony - which are amazingly enough STILL lasting even though it is way past their time! My landlady does them every year and Ljilja and I just have to water them...
Sinisa and Olja also came for lunch the one day... Mom and I made the lunch together (old family recipe-even my brother used it once for his cub scout badge!) and we had a great time hanging out with them... fun times!
We also made it to do some sightseeing: The weather was great: the first time that she has been here and no rain! Below is Mom at Kastel Fortress.
And the two of us on the "splav" (or raft) on the Vrbas river for coffee:
And on her last night we made it over (by bus!) to Dragana's house to visit her family. Her dad wasn't there, but he had left us some of his homemade "krushkovac" (pear brandy!) for Mom to try! Here are Dragana's mom, me, mom, Dragana, her nephew Sergej and Ljilja:
When we got home, Mary (my old YWAM colleague) came over to hang out - she arrived this week too for a visit - great to see her!

So we managed to stuff in a LOT of things in the two and a half days that she was here... Now she has gone back to Oxford to join my dad at my sister's and soon they will go back to South Africa... My dad (who has to get a visa and that is why he doesn't come visit) said he had a good time without her: catching up on his reading and emailing... here is proof:
I love the hand on the mouse:)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mom and Ivana...

So, my mom was arriving in Zagreb, Croatia (it is the closest airport) and Ivana now lives in Zagreb... see the plan forming? I borrowed Sinisa's car and drove up, got my mom and we headed over to Ivana's place (about 10 mins from the airport). We had a great visit and Mom got to meet Vedran who was just a bump when she was here last year. Here are Ivana and the kids and Ivana's mom:And here are the two "grandmas" trying to feed Vedran - too cute:
Then Mom and I headed back to Banja Luka: using our matching British passports at the border to get into Bosnia! It would have been great if my dad could have made it as well - but he still only has a South African passport and needs to get a visa and it just gets really complicated... So he is hanging out with my sister in England while Mom is here. We are enjoying ourselves so far and even though her visit is really short (she leaves already on Sunday) it is great to have her here!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marina's First birthday...

Tonight instead of going with everyone to the orphanage for the English Club there, I decided to see if they would survive without me (which they did PTL!) and went to celebrate Marina's First Birthday at the "Jezero" restaurant. After missing the first bus there, I managed to catch the second one - but despite that hiccup I eventually got there safely...

Here I am with mom Ljilja, dad, Sveto and the guest of honour, Marina: We decided to go ahead and open my present (in the box in the above pic) as there was another little girl with a babydoll which Marina took a liking to, and as you can see below my present was a great hit:
In fact, it became a really useful prop to get her to keep smiling for all the rest of photos... Here she is for example with Sveto's father and sister:It was a great evening at a lovely place and nice people: plus of course goooooood cake: Happy Birthday Marina!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

You know you have been in Bosnia too long when...

I have a good friend Jocelyn who also writes a blog (but is neglecting it a bit lately having adopted a 2 year old and had a baby in the space of a year!) and she writes a section called "you know when you have been in Bosnia too long when..." This blog is for you, Joce:

Proof that I have been in Bosnia too long:
- I now have a paranoiac fear of putting my handbag on the floor. This was demonstrated when I couldn't do it even in South Africa. Here it is considered bad luck (you will lose all your money!), but I started following the trend because if you didn't someone would come and give you a talking to for putting on the floor: so it is more a fear of being given a talking to than that I would lose my money. But in any case, can't do it!

- This week I decided that I couldn't wash my hair as I had a bit of a sniffle and all good Bosnians know that you shouldn't go out with wet hair (or even newly washed hair - yes seriously!) especially if you have the beginnings of a cold! (Ljilja told me that I needed to go demand my Bosnian citizenship when she heard my reasoning on this!)

- I was told by my Doctor that the cure for my low iron is to take nettles and whole lemons and chop them up with my (and here is the other proof that I have been here too long - I can't think of the English for "multipratik" or the thing you use in the kitchen to slice and dice...) kitchen thingie and put that all in honey: then every day eat one spoonful!! This apparently can sit in the fridge for a year and so each summer you can make it for the next year. Ok, the proof that I have been here too long is the fact that I actually did it!! (and by the way you need to use gloves for the nettles!). I do need to mention here that when I asked my friend Keren (who is a doctor in South Africa) what she thought of my Doctor's advice, she said and I quote "she is a quack", but I am still eating my honey soaked nettles and lemons every day (and it is actually not too bad!) And here's hoping that it does help my low iron as well!

Ok, I am sure there are many other reasons, but these are the ones I could think of off the top of my head...hope you enjoyed them...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life without a car...

Well, so far so good. The car was stolen almost a month and a half ago, but we had use of our colleague's car until he returned from Finland 2 weeks ago. Since then we have borrowed it a couple of times for work, but mostly we have been making do with bicycles and walking: and PTL the weather has so far been pretty dry...so we are coping. I make a joke out of the fact that my bike is a "Passat": so in fact I now have better wheels than I did with the Peugeot!!

So far there is no news on getting the Peugeot back - the good news is that the police think they have found the person who took it, but the bad news is that he is not giving up the car!

So, what to do? For our work we really do need a car. It is really hard to get everything done without one, and we are aware that it will soon be winter when it will be even harder to get anything done without a car ... So we need to sort out something ... not really sure what or how or when or whether (my roommate and colleague) Ljilja and I will get something together or not, but if you pray, please pray with us for guidance on this! Thanks!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Yay! I got my Bosnian visa sticker today!

This year's visa renewal process was probably the least stressful in the 8 years of visa renewals. Each year the requirements change and usually the change is something added to make it more difficult! This year the changes actually made things easier! As a result, I handed the application in early - so early they were complaining that I was too early - and got it back early as well! So, PTL, I am good for another year...

It is quite funny how I found out that the sticker was ready though: I was busy finishing up the paperwork for Sergej's organisation (mostly done, one more piece of paper to go! - this has only taken... 4 months!!) and while I was in the Health Office, the lady I work with on my visa in the "Office for Foreigners" was there renewing her Health Insurance book. She saw me across the room and approached me and said "hey come in today, your sticker is ready"... gotto love that!

As we are still on our bikes (the car is still AWOL) this was really great as I didn't have to make another special trip across town to go get the sticker when they eventually got around to telling me: so it was good that I ran into her when I did!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

What happened to the rest of the money...

So, there was money left over which I had collected for the couch for the Children's home... So last week I had a meeting with the director and some of the teachers who work with the little kids (they have 8 of them and 2 babies in this "family") to see what we could get them. It was suggested that we use the money to re-cover some old couches which had years ago been donated from Germany. They were small and really just right for little kids and there is nothing like them to buy here. And we found a guy who would do it for the exact amount that I had left!!

Here are Majda, Una and Jelena on the one set (which comes apart into three parts!):And then showing off on both of them: So cute!!
I am so glad that I got to be a part of making these little kids' living room more fun and adapted to their size!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

7th Happy Crutch day

This post goes out to my dear friend Heather Wonnacott pictured here with me when I was in South Africa in February:Heather has been on her "Handy" and "Andy" crutches now for 7 years (due to health issues which are too complicated to get into here) and each year for the anniversary (see 5th Happy Crutch day for more on this) she challenges us to either spend the whole day on crutches or one leg, or take a picture of people using crutches, hopping or on one leg to somehow commemorate the "Happy Crutch day".

On the actual "Happy Crutch Day" we were supposed to go to the orphanage, but in the end it didn't work out, so I already had the idea to get the kids there to be a part of the day, so when we went today this is what we did: (a little late, but better late than never!)

I explained to the kids about my friend really far away and about "Happy Crutch Day" then we got them up and tried to get a picture of them all standing on one leg. When that wasn't really working I got them all to hop: you can see the sequence here: See if you can spot Branka, Sofija and Ivana who were the volunteers from the English Club who came with me:




As you can see they really got into it and enjoyed being part of the 7th annual Happy Crutch Day! Here's hoping, Heath, that it is the LAST Happy Crutch Day!

What are the chances...

Last night we started up English Club again after a little break for August. So we were going around the group and saying what we had been up to over the summer. Ivana had been in Budva in Montenegro. She was saying how nice it was that this year there wasn't just Russians and Italians but other foreigners there... Then she goes "for instance there were two Australians who were backpacking"...

Now, when I went down to Zenica at the beginning of August on the train I was in a compartment with two Australians who were travelling. Thinking "what are the chances" I asked her what their names were... And they were the same two names and the stories and times matched so it seems that my two Aussies were also her two!! What are the chances of that happening!!

But it reminded me of a cute story from the train: I was in the compartment with these two Aussies and an older Bosnian man. When I first got into the compartment, I didn't even realise the Aussies were foreign, but it became obvious when I spotted their backpacks and of course when they started speaking English! The older man then asked me "what is that they are speaking" and so I started speaking to him in Serbian and we had a good old conversation (he even wanted to marry me off to his son!!). Then I turned to the Aussies and started talking to them in English. The older man got all confused and said "but how did you do that? How can you talk to me and also to them?" He couldn't understand how it was possible that I could talk to him and then also be able to talk to them... So cute!

Still reeling at the chances of Ivana running into the same two guys in Montenegro!
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