Saturday, March 27, 2010

Krajina meeting

Banja Luka is part of a region of Bosnia Hercegovina called "Bosanska Krajina" ("Bosnian borderland") which is made up of Banja Luka and anything to the northwest and west to the border with Croatia. The leaders of the Protestant/Evangelical churches in the region meet up regularly to support one another in the different cities where there are congregations. Today it was our turn to host the others...

There were quite a few people who weren't able to come, but it was still a nice representation. We spent time sharing our stories, and a lot of time laughing! The main reason we came together was to also encourage and pray for one another and this region of Bosnia: the Krajina. And what is great is that churches in this region are in both the Republic of Srpska and in the Federation, and so these meetings are bringing churches together from the divided entities and because we serve the same God, we don't even feel that there is a difference!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Some of the things I did today:
-I worked on the registrations for our upcoming YWAM conference in Romania: (this is part of my responsibility with YWAM Central European Communications)

-We (Ljilja, Sinisa and I) had a (LONG) meeting with Tanja from Dorcas Aid Head Office (in Sanski Most) to discuss our finances for our various projects through them.

-I organised for our Easter packages to get to the Children's Home for our distribution for Easter as they were in our main meeting room, and we need the space for meetings on Saturday.

-We (Ljilja and I) went to Celinac (the next town over) to be there when "Suncocret"(Sunflower), an organisation who helps refugees, had a distribution of clothes we had donated to them and handed out our Easter packages to their kids. (see photos below!!!)

-I had my fringe (bangs for Americans!) cut by my lovely hairdresser as she works on the way back from Celinac

-I did manage to have a little rest at 6pm - I was supposed to be having English with one student who has missed a few classes to catch her up, but she cancelled... :-)

-We (Ljilja and I) cleaned the house as we have guests coming this weekend and frankly it needed it!

- At 8pm I took a break from cleaning and had a skype meeting with Justin and Iris from Holland (who were here two years ago with a team from YWAM) about a team they want to bring this summer with another organisation. Lovely to "see" them again...

Here are the photos from Celinac as promised:
The kids getting their packages (made by David and his team last week) and some soft toys from Holland. And where there are kids, Ljilja is sure to be:

Clothing distribution:

Some of the people who were there: The woman in white in the middle is the chairperson of the organisation, Ziada, and does a LOT to enable this all to happen:
I didn't mention that (of course) being Bosnia, Ljilja and I were not allowed to go without having something to eat (Zaida had made homemade pita (Bosnian pie)!!). And despite the fact that we had already had lunch with Tanja and Sinisa at the office, we managed to get some of it in there... and boy was it good.

So, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life through all that I did today... me, I am ready for bed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

English Classes 2010

My 2010 beginners' English Classes began already 3 weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to take the camera, and this week I finally remembered! I have a really nice bunch of students in two groups: real beginners (who don't know anything, or very little) and elementary (who know more or have been through my real beginners group in previous years). We have people from this year's projects as well as people from previous years or friends of theirs and I have a full quota of students, as word has got out!

Working hard: Beginners:


Here is the whole Beginners' class:
And the second-level: Biljana and Jasna from last year's beginners' group getting a little help from me:
Jelena, Aldeida and Zorica, all teachers (no pressure on me!!)
And me with Tanja, Bozana and Tanja:
It is a great to be able to teach people in this way: and see them actually learning! Two ladies are even coming 40km to class as they really see they value of having English language knowledge: man, what a privilege it is to teach people with that kind of motivation to learn! But as I tell my classes, I can be the best language teacher in the world and be using the best books, but if they don't have the motivation to learn and put the work in, I can't teach them anything!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Being South African...

Today I came across two videos which make me just really proud to be a South African. One is a group of (amazing and all South African!) musicians who have come together to make a video which is against the high crime rate in South Africa (something we aren't that proud of - but it is fantastic that they are singing out against it!). Take a look: it is a good song, sung really well, for a good cause!

The other is a "Where the hell is Matt" video which he made doing the Diski dance around South Africa (with some absolutely fantastic views!). If you haven't come across Matt before, he is a crazy guy who dances in different places around the world and his videos on youtube are amongst the most popular! He has his own site:

The Diski dance is a dance that has been made up for the World Cup (which if you didn't know is in South Africa this year!) out of different soccer moves with a ball (spot the header for instance). For more on that you can check out

Click here to go to it on youtube as it doesn't embed properly on my blog: Enjoy the great views as well, as you see crazy Matt dance (not very well) this funky dance!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who says we are too old for Lego??

Especially when we are building it with Sneza and Boki!!
And making it go even higher than me!

Fun times!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ladie's night: Tin necklaces

To be honest, when my Finnish colleague, Lea, invited us ladies over to make tin necklaces, I thought "ya right, I will never get it right", but actually it isn't as difficult as all that... if you listen to Lea and "keep it simple".

Here are Ljilja and Dragana making their moulds out of plaster:
Then you melt the tin in a special spoon:
And pour it into the mould (this is my "star")
Below are Lea and my necklaces:
And Cindi's heart:
Mix the necklace making with loads of Lea's good baking/cooking (quiche, cookies and strawberry CHEESECAKE!) and some great company and you have a really great Saturday night! Left to right: Lea, Ljilja, me, Dragana, Amber, Cindi and Alicia:
Thank-you Lea for a great time!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Miss Communication

I think a lot of my Communication usually ends up being a single female called "Miss Communication". Isn't it so true that no matter how much we think we have communicated something in the right way, there often ends up being some sort of misunderstanding? Especially here where I am not working in my mother tongue and so the subtleties of language nuances are sometimes not communicated clearly... but even in English there seems to be a lot of that naughty "Miss" around...

This week I have been in the middle of a couple of Miss Communication's handiwork and it has been interesting how by sitting down and talking it over and getting both sides of the story, things can be sorted out. I won't go into the gory details, suffice it to say that I still have a LOT to learn about good communication and how to make sure that not only are you understood, but that you understand the other person's story as well. I will continue to strive, with God's help, to banish Little ol' Miss Communication from my life!!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Happy Women's Day!!!

One thing that is big here is the celebration of International Women's Day on the 8th of March. I had never heard of this holiday before coming here, so it doesn't seem to be all that "international", but it is celebrated in a BIG way here.

From the Wikipedia: "Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet Bloc In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and St Valentine's Day."

Here in Bosnia and Hecegovina, women are celebrated and treated and presents exchanged (usually from men to mothers, wives and daughters). Ljilja and I usually treat our landlady to something to show how much we appreciate her... and send messages to all our friends...

So through this blog I am wishing "Happy 8th of March" to all women and girls!!!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Montenegro Fida Seminar...

My first ever trip to Montenegro (BBP - Before British Passport, I needed a visa and so it was just too much hassle, even though it is a neighbouring country!) was for a Fida Seminar on LFA (Logical Framework Analysis, which is used to write projects). Although mostly well-known for its beautiful coastline, we were up in the mountains, which I think are also particularly beautiful:

However, we didn't get to enjoy much of the scenery and instead worked as a team on the Fida project proposal for 2011-2013: here we all are working on our problem and objective trees (both shown below), which is the first part of the process: Sinisa, Miika, Ljilja and I:

There was some time to enjoy the facilities of the great hotel we were in. And the company of some of the other Fida workers who were at the seminar: here I am with some of the Albanian team in the Jacuzzi:
And we did have a little time to wander around Kolasin where the conference was held. Here Ljilja and I with Elvira in front of the statue of a national hero from the town: Veljko Vlahovic.
And Dragana and Ljilja and I in the main square:
Although it was a long trip there and back (10-11 hours drive), we got a lot of the actual planning for the project done and it was a good learning experience for me. Even though I knew a lot of this way of proposal writing, getting more in-depth training on how to do it properly has also helped for future projects through other partners. It was also great to have time away as a team (although without David who couldn't come :-( ) and I also enjoyed seeing a bit of this region that I haven't seen before!
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