Monday, May 30, 2011

Team at the orphanage...

Saturday and Sunday we went to the orphanage to play with the kids and have a little "program" with them... First we introduced outselves and the kids had to show which was the flag of that particular country. Here is Brane showing where Adi is from: Romania!
Then it was time for games... I this is my favourite photo: just look at the joy on the faces ;-) and not just of the kids!
I gave the team a whole lot of tennis balls, and then managed to make up quite a few games using them: Here is pass the ball like a hot potato. If the music stops while you have the ball you are out! 
Pass the ball backwards over under... I love Tanja's face on the left ;-)
Then the team did four little skits and talked about how we need to love each other and what is love: We then made hearts to remind us to be loving...

Then Sunday we went again and as it wasn't raining, we were able to play outside and it was great fun! We also had a program and a craft inside afterwards while the bigger boys played football, but I don't have any photos of that. So this is it from today:
We had a few local volunteers come with us (thanks guys!) who helped with the translation, so I wasn't the only one having to translate all the time. But another advantage of this team is that two of them speak Italian. Why is that an advantage? Because many of the children go to Italy for a month in the summer and a month in the winter to stay with families there (it is organised by another organisation) so they speak Italian pretty well! And it is great for them to be able to communicate with those who can speak Italian without having to go through an interpreter!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

International Cultural Evening in Ihtus

There is a YWAM team from Constanta, Romania here at the moment. To use the fact that they are from 6 different nations (Romania, USA, England, Germany, Hong Kong and Slovakia) we decided to have an International Cultural night at EKC Ihtus. Here I am introducing the team:
We were treated to poetry and songs from each of the countries. Here is Andrew singing Michael Finnegan (which I suspect is actually Irish, but as he grew up singing it in England he sang it for us)
And as you can see, we really enjoyed it!

After a few songs, poems and explanations about varying aspects of the different cultures, we had a quiz: Here is Hazel with a question about Hong Kong: See if you can guess it :-)
This is a photo of the team who came in second, but I don't have a pic of the winning team... sorry... Drazen, Sofija, Suzana and Sandra: Their prizes were two Romanian flags!
After the quiz we were treated to more cultural facts and a song from the Romanians:
As well as a dance:
 Which the people were eager to learn how to do:
And then it was time to show them one of the local dances: Uzicko Kolo
And after all that dancing we certainly deserved the food from all over: (Tanja, Milica, Milana, Drazen, Ljilja, Sofia and Adi):
It was a fantastic evening... and we had a great time hanging out with the team until late! (and the answer to the quiz question is B - don't worry we didn't get it right either!)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ratko Mladic arrested...

The last big fish from the Bosnian war was caught today in Serbia. Ratko Mladic was the Chief of the Republic of Srpska Army during the 1992-1995 war and was indicted for war crimes by the International Tribunal in The Hague in 1995 for his alleged role in the siege against Sarajevo and the Srebrenica genocide. His name kind of means "warring youngster" so it is interesting that is the life that he ended up with...

His arrest has been expected since the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in July 2008, but it has been a long time coming. He was hiding out under another identity and this morning was captured by Serbian Special Forces and his identity confirmed through DNA analysis. It is definitely him! He will now be sent to The Hague to stand trial.

This will help Serbia to finally enter into talks to join the European Union, as this was one of the preconditions to those talks: that the war criminals be found and arrested. Interestingly enough, Serbia has always officially denied that Karadzic and Mladic were still in Serbia, but in the end both of them were found to be living there under different identities. Although I believe that this is good news, in the long run his arrest is just the beginning of a long and very drawn out not much to rejoice about really...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday fun...

In the morning, walking around town I encountered the annual gathering of Veterans /"Oldtimers" on the main square... My Dad would say "my dad owned one of those": Despite the crowds, I managed to take a few pictures:
A Mercedes and an Oldsmobile:

And the one I like the best is a Beetle made entirely out of wood! I have seen it before, and it has even made it onto TV. Yesterday, I overheard  him tell someone else that it took him a year and a half to make! Amazing:
After such a beautiful morning, we were fooled into thinking that the predicted rain wouldn't happen and headed to Damjan and Tanja's plot to have a braai/barbecue... It was fine for the first hour or so, but then the heavens openned. Here is proof that nothing will stop us enjoying ourselves!!! (especially me from the "comfort" of the little shed!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Booksneeze review: Max on LIfe

Max Lucado's latest offering "Max on Life" finally arrived for me to review. I was supposed to review it on the 19th of April, so this is almost a month late, but what can I do when the post to Bosnia is slow?

The book is something unique: Max has taken questions that he has received either from his readers or from members of his church in San Antonio, Texas. With collected wisdom from his 5 year stint as a missionary in Brazil, and his preaching, teaching and writing ministry of over 20 years, he answers each question in his inimical style. Ranging from questions on "Why am I here?" to sex and romance, he covers a wide-range of questions about life in general and Christian life in particular. Touching on forgiveness, why God allows suffering, money and how to talk to children about sex, this format gives Max the opportunity to share his wisdom with us on many areas of life.

As he receives a lot of questions on writing, he also includes a section on that, which has been an encouragement to me to be more deliberate in my writing and in trying to bless people through what I write. Not just say "I would like to be a writer" or "I like writing", but to actually get off my behind and write stuff!

This is a book which can be read fast and reread slowly, and kept as a resource for when the tough questions come at you personally. It helps us remember why we believe what we believe, and also gives wise answers to frequent questions that people may not understand about the Christian faith.

I received this book free from Booksneeze in return for my honest review.
All opinions are my own.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Outing with the Book Club kids

Today we took the 11 children that have been regular members of our Book Club to the Banja Luka Zoo as a reward for all the reading that they have done. The zoo was fantastic, giving us all free entry (including the volunteers) and giving all the children free rides on the merry-go-round and little train. Kudos to them!

When we arrived, we went around and looked at the animals. If I think of this more as a petting zoo, with some extras, and then it is not so bad. They do have a bear and two wolves: 
Stana with the bear "Momcilo"
Simo and Brane with the wolves
But mostly the animals are more for children to interact with:  
Stana and Ana watch Dijana feed the goat
Jelena, Simo, Brane, and Bojan watch Dragana feed the deer

After we had tired ourselves by walking around, it was time for lunch: sandwiches which Ljilja and I made this morning: 

Nooa from Finland enjoying his!
Then it was time to play cards or hang out on the swings:
who says it is only for the kids :-)

After we got bored of that, it was off to the merry-go-round and the train :-)

Then it was time to eat again and listen to a story from the Children's bible: about Noah and all the animals on the ark! We then had a chance to colour in different pictures of animals and Noah and his ark...

And one more picture of all of us before we go home:
I don't know who had a better time: the kids or us volunteers :-) Even though it was tiring, it was so great hanging out with the kids and giving them a day that they won't forget in a hurry... Thanks to everyone who made this day possible!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Library... with the Orphanage Book Club

The Book Club children get their books at Banja Luka's Children's Library. The library is fantastic and is a great resource for children in this city. The children go every second week to get their books and every other week we have the book club at the orphanage to talk about those books, which they were supposed to have read...

I realised that the children weren't really choosing books that were appropriate (too hard or too easy) and so I asked if I would be able to come with them to the library to see how it works. I then decided to also become a member of the library so that I could check out some books and be able to recommend them to the children. I have discovered that they have some up-to-date books that are translated into the local language which are really enjoyable... The boys have started reading one set of books, and they now can't wait to get another one! (before it was like pulling teeth to get them to read anything! So yay!)

This morning I remembered to take my camera with me so you can see what a trip to the library is all about...Here is Vesna, one of the librarians, checking out books for Brane and Simo:  (on another note, we are using the same system that they have here for our library at Ihtus! My colleagues came and found out how they do it...)
The choosing of the books usually takes place very quickly...
Bozana choosing herself a book
Darja and Dragana choosing a picture book each
As the major feature of the library trips is the internet! The older kids either take turns or share:
Brane and Cvijan
Dijana and Bozana

While the little ones watch cartoons:
And we older people get to hang out and have coffee with the great librarians! (sorry-forgot to get a picture of that!)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Then Sings My Soul: Booksneeze review

I wrote the review for "The Final Summit" yesterday and soon after, the doorbell rang. I asked "who is it" and when a man's voice said "Postar" (postman) I thought it was someone joking with me: as our postman usually comes at the crack of dawn. So I shouted out "ma daj!" (come on!). So, of course, I was very embarressed when I opened the door and it was the postman!! But I was very excited when I saw that he this book for me... especially as the first one that booksneeze sent last year went astray.

150 hymns are represented in this book, each with the music and words, and then the story of how each was written. It is presented in a special paperback with "parchment" pages: it is so beautiful, you almost don't want to read it! It is perfect as a present for any Christian musician or even pastor: as besides being beautiful, it is a very useful resource for musicians and also for sermon writing.

I started reading it last night, thinking that I would just read one or two of the stories, but they are so interesting, that I got almost half-way through the book... and I am looking forward to reading the rest. I also look forward to re-reading it more slowly and being reminded of the heritage of Christian worship music that is ours.

I received this book for free from booksneeze to review. This opinion is all mine!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just Do It! Booksneeze Review: The Final Summit

Having not read the first book "The Traveler's Gift", I didn't really know what to expect in this sequel. The author, Andy Andrews, does go through the principles that the traveler, David Ponder, learnt in the first book, so it was easy to read this book without reading the first part.

I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed. It is a good, motivational book, with a great message - one which I will be using - but it reminded me of Nike's campaign "Just Do It". The whole premise and outline with many famous brains of the past coming together to figure out the one thing that will save mankind was just a bit much for me: it doesn't fit in with the God that I know, and the Bible that I read. Maybe I missed the point, but for me it just didn't hit home.

The message itself is fantastic: restore hope, seek wisdom, have courage, exert self-discipline but most importantly: "Do something": don't just wait and wait and wait and wait a minute: where is patience? Where is seeking God? Where is waiting on the Lord? I understand that we do need to be proactive and do something, but for that to be the one thing that God is wanting us to do to save mankind? I am not so sure. 

So, go into the book with eyes wide open, realising that Andy Andrews is a great motivational speaker, who will help you get off your butt and do something: but remember that that doing something may well be prayer, seeking the Lord, and not doing anything for now!!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Victory Day Holiday...

Today we celebrate "Dan pobjeda nad fasizmom" (Victory over Fascism Day), i.e. celebrating the end of the 2nd World War in Europe. It is a non-working day, making this the 4th 4-day working week in a row!

I was taught in school that VE (Victory in Europe) Day was the 8th of May. And it only occurred to me today after all these years of having a public holiday to celebrate "Victory over Fascism" here on the 9th of May, that it isn't actually VE Day as I was taught. In fact, in some countries it is celebrated on the what is the difference?

After a little bit of research, I think I have found the answer...the German forces signed the agreement in France, capitulating to the Allied forces, on the 7th of May. It was only ratified in Berlin on the 8th of May. And when the Soviets signed the ratification late on the 8th in Berlin it was (because of the time difference) already the 9th in Moscow, so their Victory Day is on the 9th! Isn't it funny how these things come about?!

Now, interestingly enough this is a public holiday here in the Republic of Srpska, but not in the Federation part of Bosnia Hercegovina, where "se proslavlja radno" (it is celebrated while still working). Now if someone could tell me why the Republic of Srpska celebrates it by not working and the Federation celebrate while still working, I would be interested to find out!!

Friday, May 06, 2011


This past week I have been at a Fida training conference in Dubrovnik. It was for all their partners in the Western Balkans and there were over 50 of us from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina. The first 2 days were rainy and we were inside involved in training all day anyway, but on the third day, the planned afternnon trip to the old town coincided with some lovely sunny weather:-)
Ljilja and I at the entrance to the old city's harbour
At the one city gate looking back at the city walls
Dubrovnik is a very beautiful city, and after walking around for a while, Dragana, Ljilja and I sat and had coffee on the main street "Stradun": enjoying sitting outside in the sun... and soaking up the sights:
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