Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iris and Justin do Cape Town...

I first met Iris and Justin when they came to Bosnia with the GO Team in 2008. They returned this year with a Bless team and the news that they were planning on coming to SA in December for a wedding... After conferring with my parents, they were invited to stay with us while in Cape Town and as it was over Christmas to have Christmas with us!! Here we are in our garden:
They sent this pic out as their Christmas Card to people in cold, snowy Holland:
While they were here, they learnt about Cricket through watching it on TV with us, and not only that, but at my friends' house learnt how to play pool cricket! Their only comment was that the bat is heavy and it isn't as easy as it looks!

They returned to Holland today after what I think was a really nice stay! They got to do a lot of cool stuff while they were here, and also had a relaxing much- needed holiday. They are planning on bringing more teams to Bosnia, and I look forward to working with them again!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The true meaning of Christmas...

Let us not forget that the real gift at Christmas is that Jesus came to this earth to be our Saviour... forget about all the other trappings and keep focussing on that! (The photo is featuring my niece, Amy, and was taken by my dad during the Christmas present opening time... love it!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

South African Christmas...

I haven't been in South Africa for Christmas since 2002... I usually come in January every other year, and so miss the warm Christmas I grew up with...
So, it has been really special to be here with my family to celebrate our Saviour's birth. I have immersing myself in Christmas concerts and carol singing, and it has been really fun! And of course being able to swim and be in warm weather when it is literally freezing in Bosnia is not too shabby either!

Today there was 14 of us for dinner at my parents' house, including my friends, Justin and Iris, who are here visiting from Holland. When everyone arrived, it was time to open the piles of presents:
Here is my (almost) 90-year-old gran with Santa's helpers (aka my niece and nephew), James and Amy:
After the presents were open, it was time for lunch, complete with Christmas crackers and silly hats!
And if you were wondering where I get my whacky sense of life from, you don't have to look further than my gran :-) Pictured here with James' flashy glasses!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Graeme's 40th Marima Braai...

Yesterday I went to a braai (a barbecue in South Africa is called a "braai") for my friend Graeme's 40th birthday. I have been friends with Graeme for over 20 years, which is quite scary! It was great to spend time with him and his wife Nicole, celebrating his special anniversary. They organised for a marimba band (from the school where Nicole teaches) to come and help us have a fun evening... They played (very well) for us, and then we could have a go: Here are the first group of brave tryers: (Graeme is on the left):


I had to give it a go too: although I was only brave enough to do the base part, and it isn't as easy as it looks!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Where the streets have my name...

So, my luggage finally arrived and of course the had broken the zip on my suitcase!!! I wrote to them and hopefully they will get back to me soon...

I went tonight with my Dad to go buy something off Gumtree (the equivalent of Craig's list) in a suburb of Cape Town I have never been to - Kirstenhof - and discovered two streets with both my names on them! And they are within two hundred metres of each other!!! How cool is that?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I am in South Africa, but my luggage is in Germany...

So, I made it safely to South Africa, but my luggage didn't... But it was kind of inevitable really... the whole trip was a bit of a nightmare: the first time I have been delayed ever, and so having it also be the first time I lost my luggage was kind of par for the course!

It took me 48 hours to get from door to door: I caught the bus to Zagreb on Wednesday morning and had lunch with my friend Juliana, before heading to the airport. Then the nightmare began...my flight from Zagreb to Frankfurt was diverted to Munich because of heavy snow. We all stood for 3 hours from 9.45pm-12.45am waiting to get rebooked and hopefully a hotel of some sort... No such luck. I got almost to the front of the queue and they told us that they were shutting down and would open up at 5am again... no hotel and by the time I got to the beds (camp cots in the airport) I almost didn't get one...(I am sorry to the person whose stuff I moved off the bed - you not snoozing, you loozing)... Eventually the next morning after about two hours of sleep, I got rebooked on a flight direct (with another airline) from Munich to Cape Town which got me here Friday morning (sans luggage!)

One of the things that fascinated me was the fact that there was a whole group of us who bonded in the queue, people from Slovakia, Australia, Croatia, the US: all stuck in the same situation and making the time go faster by talking to each other about everything and anything. And we didn't even know each others' names: and yet we were all excited when we all finally got rebooked or found another way, etc... I know I will never see any of them ever again, but for those few hours we felt like family. A kind weird estranged family maybe, but family nonetheless...

Now I am catching up on sleep and just getting used to being in this strange, warm, windy weather, trying to figure out what to wear (luckily I have some clothes here!) and praying that my luggage (which was pretty much 80% presents) does eventually get here!

And next time I will go via Istanbul... no snow!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Last Advanced Class...

After 6 weeks of Advanced Classes, we had our "graduation" tonight. We decided to have 6 weeks of classes, not "Club" and at the end to give an actual Certificate. 8 students out of the 15 that started, came each week and received their "Certificates". Over the 6 weeks, we have worked through a lot of good stuff: from discussions about the Chilean miners, to blonde jokes, and similes and idioms... we also played some fun games and just generally found ways that we could have fun while talking in English! David and Eliska have been faithful helpers, and it has been a really great group, as the below photo shows!!!
This group was a trial run to see how this format will work in the future, and it has shown to be successful. With the English Club I was never sure how many people would show up, and it made it hard to plan. With the classes, I knew that I would have a nice group of people and so was able to plan a lot better, and have more interesting activities... at least I hope so! We also did some of the fun games and activities that we did at the Club: "lateral thinking", for instance, is a firm favourite... I look forward to starting up another Advanced Class next year!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Klub Citalaca - Reading Club

Here is a really goofy pic from last night. I so enjoy these kids and the volunteers who come along to help us with the club:
Over the weeks that we have been running the club, besides going over the books they have read and reading a bit to them, we have been doing little activities each time in order to make this poster:
It is trying to get other kids to come along and read with us. It says things like "I love reading books and fairy-tales", "A book-my best friend", "when I am angry, a book is my best friend" and "let's read". Also some of their favourite books are on there "Snow white and the 7 dwarfs" and "Alibaba" among them. We also gave out some prizes last night (each time they read 5 books, they get a prize!) and that may be an even bigger incentive... but whatever way we do it, we are trying to get the kids at the Children's Home to fall in love with reading and make it a lifelong habit!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barbies and Lego...

On Sunday afternoon, Ljilja and Enisa (who was visiting from Sarajevo) and I went with Tanja and her two kids, Snjezana and Bojan to see the international Barbie and Lego exhibition that is in Banja Luka until tomorrow. It was pretty amazing - although I was disappointed there wasn't more Lego (there was much more Barbie than Lego). The kids (and adults) did have a fun time, as besides the displays they had games and a BIG slide... Thanks to Tanja for the photos as I didn't have my camera with me...

Here is Snjeza in front of "Wedding Barbie":
The Harley Davidson Barbie and Ken: I am not making this stuff up - that was what it said on the label! Who knew there was a dark side to the Barbster?
There really were all kinds of Barbies...
And then the Legos: Boki in front of Lego Sponge Bob and Robin Hood: 
And this one is for Dragana, who loves Penguins... isn't it cute?
As I said, I was a bit disappointed with the Legos, as there weren't that many of them: but there were plenty of Barbies, including ones from different countries: Here are Ljilja and Enisa in front of some country, not sure which one :-)
And me with the "South African Barbie":
While Boki was going on the slide a hundred times, Snjeza, Enisa and I played with some of the available Barbies:
And Tanja decided that she is actually the ultimate Barbie :-)
All in all, it was a fun way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How to make Bosnian "Pita"/Pie

Ok, so the other day I  had the opportunity to make pita with my friend, Tanja. I kind of know how it all goes, but have never done it all by myself. With her directing - actually more like happily ordering me around - and taking pictures...I found a perfect person to do this with - we had as much fun making the pita as we did doing the pictures for the "making of"!

Now, my sister said after the "Operation Ink tag removal" slide show that she always wondered who those people were who made these "How to" kind of things and now she actually is related to one... well sis, this is for you:

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Monday, November 22, 2010

so... what's up with me?

Wow, I haven't posted anything in two weeks, that is a long time for me :-) I don't have anything mind-blowing to post about now either, but I thought I would write a little something... to catch you up with what is going on with me. In case you actually care!

November is the month where the clock has changed back and everyone is adjusting to the fact that at 4.30 it is dark outside, and usually the weather is horrible (although we have been lucky, and it is only now just turning really nasty), so not much is going on which is blog-worthy! Also, I was out of it last week with some sort of tummy bug, which has finally run its course...

My meds for hypothyroidism seem to have reached their right level, yay! I am up to 2/3rd of what I would be taking if I didn't have a thyroid at all, so looking back it is amazing that I was able to function at all - or a testimony to God's faithfulness in giving me the strength I needed to get everything I needed to get done, done...

Ljilja's sister Sladjana gave us all a big scare last week as she was hospitalised with kidney problems. PTL that in the end it was "just" a kidney stone: at one stage they thought her kidneys had given in. She is doing ok now, just waiting for the stone to pass... Also PTL that they managed to sort out the insurance for her stay so she only had to pay the "participation" fee and not they whole amount (which was around 1000Euros!). Ljilja went down to Trebinje to be with her family while this was all going on, but arrived back safely last night.

I am also busy working on my Master's in Community Development. I made a survey which I sent out 10 days ago to people who have been working (or worked) in Bosnia Herzegovina in Christian Development work. It has been interesting to see what the results have been so far. I look forward to seeing what will come out of this! If you have ever worked in that field in BiH and want to be involved, let me know!

And now, I have about 3 weeks to go before I head to South Africa (yes, it is sneaking up on me too)! In that time we will be finishing off the English Classes and Alpha. I will also be handing over the Orphanage Book Club to the capable volunteers who will be running it my absence...and almost everything else that I do here can be done while I am in South Africa via skype and email or will just have to wait until I am back!!

So, in a nutshell, that is what's up with me...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Advanced English Classes

We started last week with 6 weeks of Advanced English Classes. After 5 years, H.O. "Most" English Club is no longer! We decided to change the format and have more of a "class" feel and run it for 6 week blocks at a time - so people are motivated to come each week!

We do a couple of fun games and activities each week, all with the aim of getting them to talk English! Here they are in pairs, talking about something they are "experts" in... some interesting discussions!!

After 5 years of English Club on Tuesday nights, it is different having classes on a Monday, and it is a slightly longer format - but the time goes by just as fast and it is just as fun!!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book Club at the Orphanage...

We have been going in every other week to run a Book Club for some of the children at the orphanage. (Thanks to Tanja and Sofija who did a great job of running it while I was in England!). I keep forgetting to take my camera, but finally remembered tonight! Each of the children go to the library and choose their own book to read. We then come together and talk about the books with each other: filling out a "form" for each book: who are the main characters? where is it set? what happens? and how much do you like it?

Here is Dijana, being helped by Jovana and Suzana helping David: 
Eliska checking over Simo's form: 
We also have some younger members who love being read to: here is Tanja reading to Danijela:
 And (another) Jovana reading to Dragana:
We also do other activities: such as this week we made a chart of our favourite books to show other children in the home. Each week we have between 6-7 kids and about the same amount of volunteers, so we are usually able to give them one-on-one attention which is really great. Our aim is to give them a love for reading now, which will stand them in good stead in the future!!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Goodie burger - Bosnian style

In South Africa, there is a chain of restaurants called the "Spur" and I grew up going there with my family. I also worked there for a while when I was at University. They have one burger there called the "Goodie Burger" with cheese, pineapple and mushroom sauce: below right:

After Alpha last night, some of the leftovers came home with us, and I realised this morning that I somehow coincidentally had all the makings of a Bosnian version of the Goodie burger... Ever one to grab a chance to record my strange cross-cultural exploits for you, my reading public, I now present to you the Bosnian Goodie Burger:

Instead of the bun we have the "lepina":
The burger has been replaced by "cevapi" (granted they do have burgers here, so I could have used one of those, but beggars can't be choosers...):
Then cheese slices (this is not a "healthy Burger", but a "Goodie"!):
And pineapple: this is unusual for me to have in the house as it is quite expensive here, but it was on special and I grabbed it!!
Then some homemade mushroom sauce (I had the mushrooms leftover from another recipe I made on the weekend, and this was the only thing I actually had to make for the burger: but sauce is not hard to make.. saute onions, mushrooms, add flour and then milk, stir...piece of cake!):
Then reheat in the microwave and you there have it: A yummy Bosnian Goodie Burger! Not quite the same as what you get in the restaurant, but maybe even more yummy!

Alpha course

We started the Alpha Course last night. Alpha is a course that was started in the UK and has now been run in over 190 countries throughout the world. For more information on the course you can go here. It is great to be able to hold it here! We had a nice turnout with others saying that they will come next week. We started with a lovely dinner, and then before the talk watch the video "Bear Grylls did Alpha" because, well, people here know who he is too! (And by the by, he is coming to Bosnia to record two episodes of Ultimate Survivor!!)

One of the purposes of Alpha is to create a relaxed atmosphere where we can discover together answers to Life's questions. As part of this: I think that Ljilja did a fantastic job of the decorations, which meant people were already in a relaxed mood when they walked in the door...

The first talk was on "Christianity" and "Who is Jesus?". Below is Sinisa giving the talk: Afterwards we had good discussions over coffee and cake.
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