Saturday, July 31, 2010

Final Beginners Class

So, the last class for this year's beginners' group was last night. We started with a test (this is just so that we can see if they learnt anything... the diplomas are for performance in the class) and none of them are looking forward to the results. I still have to mark them, so we will see how they do!

Then it was time for the party...any excuse for a party!
And the diplomas:
Gorana also got a special prize for only missing one class!


All of us with our diplomas...
I really enjoyed this group and they worked hard during the year: One week I gave them the task to learn how to spell their names in English and they all did it really well! I almost cried...ok I know, but I was just so proud of them! It is really hard for it to come to an end, but we will stay in contact and next year many will come along to my higher level classes!

Two of the ladies, Gorana and Nevenka who were the most regular (Gorana only missed once and Nevenka twice) travelled 40km to class each week, so no pressure on me to actually teach them something... it is humbling when I realise that many people here don't have the opportunity to learn English (even at a basic level) and many really want to learn - it really says it all when they are travelling 40km (each way!) to come to classes each week!

Once again, I gave everyone a special CD-ROM ESL Course which is called "The HOPE". It is based on the story of the Bible and has a LOT of really good material for learning English...  It is a really good resource and I hope they enjoy using it for themselves and their children!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Review for BookSneeze

I recently found out about this great way to get books for free: if you have a blog and like reading, then look into BookSneeze (thanks Taryn for this great recommendation). They send you books for free to review and write about on your blog. This means a lot to me as access to English language books here in Bosnia is very limited and I read a LOT!!

The first book I am going to review is:

Resurrection in May
By Lisa Sampson

This story is about May Seymour after she graduates from University of Kentucky (UK*) and the people and places she encounters on a journey to the depths and the heights of humanity. Not knowing that this book dealt with serious subjects like the conflict in Rwanda and the reality of the death penalty, I walked in expecting a light, fluffy, summer read (especially judging by the cover!). Instead my brain was engaged throughout the book, along with my soul. And my soul was well-fed through this book.

With the word “resurrection” in the title, I knew there would be dark times, and while the author took us into the reality of what darkness means to the world at large, she also showed what it means to the individual as well. Through May’s journey we see what suffering brings out in her and how she finds meaning through it all. She loses so much, but God keeps showing her how much she has in fact gained through her experience and how much she gave to others along the way. 

Living in Bosnia for over 9 years, I have encountered some of the depths of what people can do to one another and I walked away from the book with a deeper understanding of why God allows suffering. Although it is a story and keeps you involved throughout, this is also a book with a message that comes through clearly: God is working through suffering in the world and we all have a part to play in making this world a better place.

I highly recommend this book. And now I have my own copy to lend to people here in Bosnia!!

*funny story about the "UK": I have a friend in Zenica  (near Sarajevo) who is from Kentucky and when I lived there, one of the people working with her short-term was telling me how they were going to UK to study: and of course with no knowledge of the 'other' UK, I assumed he meant England... United Kingdom... oh good lesson in worldview!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Last Elementary Class

This year we had an end of class test to see if I actually taught them anything! Usually I just give certificates based on their performance in class and how many classes they came to. This time I wanted actual proof... here they are writing the test: aren't I horrible! (and they all brought me presents as bribes - I think they wanted to take them back after they saw the test...)
And then it was time to have a little party for the end of the year!
Bozana, Jasna, Zorica, Tanja V, Tanja C and Jelena
  And then we handed out the certificates: Here I am with some of the graduates:
Tanja C

 Tanja V got a special prize for attending ALL the classes
I also gave everyone a special CD-ROM ESL Course which is called "The HOPE". It is based on the story of the Bible and has a LOT of really good material for learning English... We are not planning on having classes until next year again, so it will give them something to do in the meantime!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bless Team: last day...

Today the Bless team left, sniff sniff :-( They had a great last day yesterday: In the morning we held another Kid's Club:
start with the parachute
and when all the kids show up use it to sit on...
to enjoy a story acted out from the Bible

the team with all the children and their decorated crafts
Ana the mouse
Zorros Marko and Lara: too cute!

In the evening the team and some of the people they have met this week went out together to enjoy cevapi at the restautant "Kod Muje":
Sandra, Joe, Gemma, Zoe, Suzana and Jovana
Iris, Justin, Lucy, Hannah, Max, Georgina, Jovana and Dajana
It has been a great week with this team, and even though things didn't work out as we thought, we managed to make new plans and possibly had a better week than we had originally planned...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bless Team: Djeciji Klub (Kid's Club)

Since we couldn't go to the orphanage this week, we decided to use a strategy that Bless uses elsewhere - just go to a playground and have a kid's club there. Yesterday they did some flyering in the neighbourhood to advertise, and this morning we showed up not really knowing what to expect...
Hannah, Lucy, Georgina, Jemma, Joe, Iris and Justin. In front: Zoe and Max
We started with the parachute and very soon we had LOADS of kids... It was very hot, so we found some shade and moved onto songs and a story and then decorating vests:
 Here are the kids with their decorated vests:
After that it was time for hair-braiding, face-painting, sports, and more fun with the kids. Everyone had a great time, and are looking forward to when we will come back tomorrow as well!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bless Team: Children's Creative Workshop

This morning over 20 children from our projects and elsewhere were treated by the Bless team to a great morning of fun, crafts, games and bible stories. First we started with the parachute which is so much fun we could have probably done it the whole time!
But soon it was time to go inside for singing:
Followed by a play about the "lost sheep" where the shepherd leaves the 99 to go and find the one lost sheep. Here is Joe being the shepherd, Lucy, Jemma, Georgia and Zoe being the sheep with narration by Max and translation by Ljilja:
We then had to go outside and "find" our own lost sheep: here are all the kids with their sheep:
We then spent time inside decorating the sheep:
Here are the finished products drying:
While we go outside to play games:
Afterwards it is time for face-painting: Milan's dragon scaring Ljilja
And there less scary body art: Here are Bojana and Zorana:
And Stefan and Stojanka with their sheep:
Everyone had a fantastic time, and we were happy to be able to do something fun with our project kids!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bless Team:English/Dutch Cultural Evening

The Bless team arrived on Saturday to spend the week with us here in Banja Luka. They are a group of 9 from Holland and England, led by Iris and Justin who were here two years ago. It is great having them back again - it really seems like yesterday that they were around! This morning we tried to go to the orphanage, but through some miscommunication (my bad for not confirming, although I did try!), they were not able to have us and so we had to change plans - it is a good thing that we are pretty flexible!!

Tonight we had a "Cultural night": A mixture of pub quiz, (which my team lost by 1/2 a point - it was rigged!) games and good food, made for a great evening:
This is a very interesting game where you have to pick a slowly diminishing box up with your mouth with only your feet on the ground - I had never seen this one before!
Tanja getting into it

Aleksandar showing how it's done

And Zoe getting just the lid!

Then it was time for "Chubby Bunny"!! I haven't played this since high school... putting marshmallows in your mouth and seeing if you can put the most... I got up to 7!
Stuff it in there
"Chubby Bunny"

Below is all of us who were trying. Milan (left) won by putting in 11!
I didn't get any pictures of the food which came afterwards - including English scones, fairy cakes and muffins, Dutch stroopwafels and chicken with satay  (peanut) sauce! The people enjoyed themselves so much we will be doing it again tomorrow night!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ljilja's 30th Birthday...

My housemate, Ljilja turned the BIG 3-0 today and it was a great day... I woke up early and made the "Sretan Rodendan" (Happy Birthday) sign below (Ljilja made the cakes herself last night!)...
Luckily it cooled down a LOT today (after a week of over 35degsC every day it was a welcome relief), as we basically had people coming over all day, with a bit of a break over lunch so we could make the food for the afternoon/evening crowd: Here is the spread... mmm:

Marina helping Ljilja blow out her token candles:
And even though a lot of our friends and teammates are away there were plenty of people around to help celebrate...including (below) Svetozar, Ljilja (his wife) and they are Marina's parents, Ljilja, Olja (who is Andrijana's mom) and Snjeza (whose mom, Tanja's nose is pictured on the left :-)
And Ljilja with Duco (left) and Sonja and Dragan... 

We had a great time catching up with people and eating lots of good snacks and great cake... and celebrating the fact that our dear friend, Ljilja, has turned 30!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye

Tonight was the goodbye party for the EUS/InterVarsity team that has been here for the past 3 weeks - man it has passed by so quickly! We are very sad to see them go:-( Here is a very fuzzy photo of Ljilja and David and I with them:

They leave tomorrow to go to EUS Summer camp and then back to the US. I would be normally be going to camp too (and am sad that I am not going), but instead I will be hosting a Dutch/English team which arrives on Saturday!!
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