Monday, September 27, 2010

Finnish Family Photos: Finally!!

I keep forgetting to get photos of our new Fida families, but finally I remembered yesterday! Here are the Kaakinens: Rami and Katja Marja and their four girls (in age order, oldest to youngest: Ruut, Rebeka, Klaudia and Elina):
The girls needed a Finnish teacher (the older 3 are going to "Finnish school" as well as attending art, music and gym at the local school) and so Fida sent Jukka Hartikainen and his family: wife, Heidi, and their daughter, Vilma and son, Noa.
Even though they could never replace the Kurrkios and Lea, it is great that Fida, their organisation, sends new people to carry on the work and we are enjoying getting to know them... If you pray, please keep them in yours as they adjust to a new place and learn the language, etc!!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome to Elishka/Czech evening/Reunion

A Czech team is here for the weekend. They came with Elishka who has arrived to stay for one year... We decided to have a "reunion" time for all the people we met over the summer as a welcome to the team and Elishka... Below is Elishka (second from left) and another team member (left) and Sandra, Jovana and Suzana whom we met through the Bless team this summer:
We spent time hanging out and catching up or meeting the team/Eliska: and eating Czech cookies/chocolates and enjoying "Kofola" (Czech cola-like drink). First outside: 

Until it started raining, and then some of us moved indoors:

It was lovely to see everyone again, and there wasn't enough time to catch up with everyone :-( It is great that Elishka is here as well, and we all look forward to having her here over the next year!!

Guess who are visiting??

Sladjana (Ljilja's younger sister) and her friend, Ljubica, are here visiting us for a couple of days: Here they are ready for going out last night...beautiful!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lesinari - Vultures

One of the "funny" things about Banja Luka is that the fans of the local football/soccer club, Borac, are called  "Lesinari" or "Vultures". The fan club first called themselves that in 1987 (and so they are actually called "Lesinari 1987") and helped Borac win the Yugoslavian title in 1988 (the first second league team to do so!). They have their own website here. One of the things they do is to paint their logo all over town:
It is so noticeable that the new Finnish teacher, Jukka, was asking me what the "birds" painted all over town stood for, and it reminded me that I had taken a few pictures of their artwork from around town, meaning to write a blog about it sometime... well it seems now is the time! 
Here is one that is in Borik: The writing is, of course, in Cyrillic:
Here is another one showing the link between football/soccer and nationalism: the Serbian crest is on the right:
This one is actually in a school and along with painting their logo they painted the name of the school as well (not pictured), so maybe a kind of payoff?
Anyway, there are plenty more, but those are all I have pics of... And not that I am a soccer/football fan at all, but it is interesting to see the extent that the fans go to here to show everyone their devotion!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Blood brothers... literally

My brother Kevin's two boys, Andrew and Luke will be blood brothers for the rest of their lives. Andrew donated his bone marrow to Luke yesterday and the procedure went really well. For the full story see my brother's post here. I am a very proud aunty right now... For those that pray, please continue to pray for this precious family as there is still a long road ahead of them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beautiful weather, lovely people...

The last two days have been really lovely and sunny and we have made the most of it... Yesterday, Mom and I walked around in our neighbourhood and to the main city park where they are having an ATP Tennis tournament at the moment. Here is Mom in the park:
We then went to "Jezero" (Lake) for lunch. It is so pretty there, and we have never taken Mom, so we had to go! Us with our food:
Mom with the lake and restaurant in the background:
 Then today we visited Tanja and Damjan (and Snjeza and Bojan) and had a great time with them:
 And then also visited Dragana (with David) where I took this lovely self-timer shot. They were all teasing me about being the "queen of self-timer" but I think it is nice that we can all be in the photo...
I can't believe that she is already leaving tomorrow early early... but although it has been a very short trip, it has been incredibly sweet!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mom's hair salon experience...

Mom has arrived for a whistle-stop visit on her way around the world to visit her children and grandchildren (my brother lives in Vancouver and my sister in England so we are all over the place!!). Dad, once again, is staying with my sister in England as with his South African passport he needs a visa for Bosnia (Mom has a British passport and doesn't need one)... Anyhoo, all that to say Mom is here!! Yay!

As she is in the middle of a 8 week almost around the world journey, she needed to have her hair coloured and cut somewhere on the trip and I suggested at my friendly hairdresser, Sanela. She is a great hairdresser and I have been going there for 5-6 years and it has got to the stage where I don't even get my haircut in South Africa and wait until I get back! Also she is incredibly cheap: for my haircut it was 5KM ($3/R23) and for mom's dye, wash and blow dry it was 15KM ($10/R70)...

Mom brought the hair colour from South Africa and Sanela put it on and then gave her a terrific head massage and another when she was having her hair washed! She really gave Mom the full treatment :-) Here they are during the blow drying stage of the process:
While the colour was setting, I also had my hair cut (it needed it) and so here are the two of us with our new hairdos:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Booksneeze review: Outlive Your Life

I was supposed to post a review for Booksneeze on the 10th of September, but since I only received the book in the mail on the 9th, it was never going to happen! Although it is the 11th where I am, it is still the 10th in Hawaii so I can get away with giving a review now...

Also I have to admit that I still haven't finished it (given that I was in a meeting yesterday all day and then had a guest last night I just haven't had the time), but what I have read (the first third of the book) I have really enjoyed. I also don't want to rush through the book, but rather savour every chapter and process it, and so that is why I have decided to do the review based on what I have read and not rush to get it finished.

Max Lucado is giving the royalties from this book to World Vision, and in doing that sets the tone for the whole book. Make your life worthwhile. Make a difference to other people. Get out of your shell. Get out and change things. This is something that I am dealing with ever since the early death of Beatrice Simion.I want my life to make a difference, to live in such a way that people are changed by my being in their lives. Max writes "May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life". That was so true of Beatrice's life. She lived in a way that people who were touched by her are being challenged to life their lives better and though she is no longer with us, her legacy lives on in Romania and in YWAM.

I look forward to reading the rest of the book and being challenged and changed in different areas. I would recommend this book to people who are looking for more out of life and wanting to see God change them. If you aren't ready for that, don't buy this book!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My nephew Luke

My brother's eldest son, Luke, who is 6 and lives in Vancouver, Canada, was diagnosed with a congenital disorder a couple of months ago. He is literally one in a million as that is how likely it is to get this disorder. I won't go into the details - if you are interested, he has his own website and my brother, Kevin, has put an explanation of everything on there:

I had such a great time on my visit to them in January, and even more so now in retrospect - as I got to know both my nephews as little boys and had a great time with the whole family without this hanging over us. If you want to see photos from that trip go here

There is no cure, and the only therapy that has been shown to have some success is a bone marrow transplant, so he is currently in the hospital to get that done...He is currently having chemo to destroy his bone marrow and the actual transplant takes place on the 17th. For those of you who pray, please keep him in yours!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

School Supplies for the Orphanage...and BOOK CLUB

We received a donation from the children at a Vacation Bible School (Holiday Club) from First Baptist Church in Copan, Oklahoma for the children at the Children's Home here in Banja Luka. So I asked the Director what the children needed, and being the beginning of the school year, she of course said "school supplies". We added a little bit of money and got enough for each child in one family unit (15 children in all) to receive a complete set of needed school supplies. This way each of them has the same and no one feels left out!
Here are some of the children with their supplies on the day we went to deliver them! (not all the kids who were receiving the packages were there, but they will get them later!) L-R: Stefan, Mario, Nikola, Dajana, Nedeljko and Cvijan
Proof that Dajana can actually smile:
Also, I have started a "Book Club" at the Home for children who are going to the library and reading books - to get them to talk about the books they are reading (and hopefully get more children reading!). There are a lot of new volunteers helping with this project so we are able to be one-on-one with the children involved, which is great! I look forward to seeing these children not only get the attention they so dearly long for, but also helping them learn to read for enjoyment: something that I learnt as a child. Reading has definitely helped me in my life and I know it will help them in theirs...

Previews for BookSneeze: Andy Andrews

Both of these books deal with Andy Andrew’s idea that every little thing we do matters; we never know the impact that we will have in the end. The butterfly effect is a part of chaos theory and in essence states that when a butterfly flaps their wings on this side of the world, it makes a tornado happen on the other side of the world. The butterfly doesn't cause the tornado per se, but without that flapping of the wings that particular tornado would not have existed in that time and space, so the butterfly was essential in that tornado's formation...

Anyway, enough about theories and on to the books...

In “The Boy Who Changed The World”, he illustrates this effect through the story of Norman Borlaug, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1970 for creating seeds that were able to withstand harsh conditions and thus increased peace by increasing food supply to poor nations. By going backwards in time and seeing who the people were who stimulated him to create the seeds and who inspired or helped them, the author shows that everything that we do is very important, and even little things matter. Also, we will never know how even a simple little action will lead to bigger things in the future. 

In “The Butterfly Effect” these stories are explained in more detail, and others are interwoven so we truly see how the flapping of the wings of our decisions today can have an influence half-way around the world tomorrow. Through these two books, Andy Andrews is encouraging children and adults alike to believe that what they do has an impact, and to make good use of their talents and influence, because we all have the power to change the world.

I have been encouraged by these books, because sometimes I don't see the effect I am having through what I am doing and so become discouraged. It helps to realise that we will often not know what our influence on others will be and how God will use it to change things in the long run. This helps me to press on!!

Also, I am looking forward to using the book “The Boy Who Changed The World” with the children at the Children’s Home (it will have to be translated as it is read to them!) to encourage them that their lives are also important and show them that they can impact other’s lives even in the little things that they do. I would recommend it for any parents to use with their children. “The Butterfly Effect” is a great gift book for any special occasion, and will be an encouragement to everyone who reads it.

This review was for BookSneeze who sent me a free copy of "The Boy Who Changed the World" and an e-copy of "The Butterfly Effect". For more details on how you can be involved in reviewing books for free, go here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Croatia and Trebinje...

Viki, the country co-ordinator for Dorcas, organised a seminar for all the Dorcas partners who work with development projects down at the Croatia coast in a little place called Podaca. Even though it was cold and wet in Banja Luka: this photo shows the weather we enjoyed during the 3-day seminar: And we even had time to enjoy the beach, as we were given free time in the afternoons (this is what a seminar is supposed to be like!)
The accommodation was rooms in a "pansion", and for food we had a cook (thanks Tanja!) and each chipped in to clean up: Here is proof that Sinisa and Viki were helpful:
When not busy with the actual seminar part, we were also able to hang out and enjoy each other's company: here are (right to left) Ljilja, myself, Viki and Ceca (who works at Dorcas HQ in Sanski Most with Viki):
And on the last night we had a nice dinner out in nearby Zaostrog: here is my "not the same old sun" sunset picture while we were there:
From there we were only 2 1/2 hours away from Trebinje, Ljilja's home town. It has been 3 years since I visited my other "family" and so we decided to go to Trebinje for the weekend. I didn't get any pictures of Ljilja's mom, dad and sister (sorry!), but needless to say we were spoilt rotten and served with scrumptious meals the whole weekend. It was great to see them and too short a stay, but we had to get back to Banja Luka.

While we were there we did get to see loads of Ljilja's (and now my!) friends. One of them, Maja, has a new baby, Andrea, so we took some arty photos using black and white to see how they came out... not too shabby!

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