Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day with the Bennetts at Hampton Court Palace

After a wonderful service at their local church, I went with my lovely hosts, the Bennett family, to Hampton Court Palace for the afternoon... Here we are on the way: Sarah and Dave with twins Katherine and Jonathan and little brother Matthew:
So, Hampton Court Palace was where Henry VIII lived, and so there was a section on him and his prolific amount of wives: here is Katherine pointing out that she has the same name as his first wife: Katherine of Aragon: (and can you remember the 6 ways he got rid of them - divorced beheaded died, divorced beheaded survived...)
The first thing we did was the amazing MAZE:
And Jonathan lead us very well all the way to the centre:
After that we walked around the grounds: and on our way round encountered this chap, decked out in Tudor garb: little did we know there were loads of these actors around and we were in for a treat!
Inside the palace there were characters of all shapes and sizes acting out different scenes: Below is a lady with her falcon:
Anne Boleyn (on the horse):
 And Henry VIII:

Once the King and Queen left, there was a whole court case with the guilty party ending up in the stocks with a "helmet of shame" on her head...
And there was even some free wine for all of us who wanted:
We also took a look around some of the palace interior. Here are King Jonathan and Queen Katherine in the Great Hall:
But I think my favourite photo of the day has to be this one of Matthew enjoying being King for a moment: what a cutie!
As you can see I had a wonderful day with the Bennetts at Hampton Court Palace :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day out in London...

I am in the UK for two weeks for conferences and such, but I only have a couple of days in London, so I am trying to fit in seeing a few people I haven't seen in a long time... Today I spent the day with my friend Victor, and we had a blast!

In front of the Paralympics countdown clock on Trafalgar square... (had to be done!)
After seeing some great artwork (which you aren't allowed to photograph) at the National gallery, we went over to South Bank to see the aMAZEing maze in books... 100000 of them! It really was an amazing experience!

We also went to a lovely free concert and found a wonderful display of South African artwork... how fun! It was called "Beautiful things" and was organised by the South African Department of Arts and Culture...

And the very arty pic of us in the beaded mirror :-)
And then it was time to go to do the London eye: which included an amazing 4D experience...
 And the eye was enjoyable despite the on and off again rain! (or maybe because of it...)
Can you spot the gherkin and the shaft?
 And Westminster?
And when it is really coming down all you can do is take shots of the neighbouring pod...
Despite the showery rain it was a very fun day in London!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I love the Library!

One of the things I most love to do is to stick my nose in a book. I have been doing a lot of it over the summer (which you can tell by the amount of book reviews I have on this blog!). It has been too hot to fall asleep until late, and then in the morning the light wakes me up earlier, so there has been a lot of reading and not so much sleeping! But I am not complaining, I love reading and it is a love that I gained as a child reading early in the morning in my Granny's bed! Instead of going to my parents to wake them up, I always knew Granny would be awake and I was only allowed to be with her in bed if I kept quiet and read. So I did!

So, one of the projects that I am most happy about is the reading club at the Children's Home. We have had a break over the summer, but I took the 12 1st-4th grade kids to the Children's library this morning... It was a little bit chaotic, so no pics, but I do have this one from when Minna was here in May - Sara was doing her hair for her: 
And despite the fact that it is quite a responsibility to take 12 kids (who generally act out if given the chance) in the kombi by myself to the library (where I am met by 1 or 2 other eager volunteers!), I was reflecting after this morning on how much I do love to take them. And luckily they usually listen to me and behave themselves... 

As it is school holidays we had a bit more time there than usual today, so we managed to get good books for all of the kids - and this morning saw 4 of the kids even taking out school assigned reading books! As they choose their own books to make it more fun for them, they usually choose easier options - but today THEY wanted to take them out!!! Success! And during the time at the library we played, watched cartoons, had fun and HUGGED a lot! I said to Ljilja when I got back, even though it takes a lot out of me, I do get my hug quota in! ;-) 

I really want them to know that reading can be fun, and to fall in love with it as I have, but more importantly, I want them to know that God loves them and that I love them. I know that it is not always easy, but for the most part, it is worth the effort! 

Booksneeze review: The Wedding Dress

"The Wedding Dress" by Rachel Hauck is about a 100 year old dress which has been worn by 4 different women on their wedding day. Going back to 1912 when suffrage and race relations were coming to the forefront all the way to a modern day bride dealing with issues of her own abandonment by her father, the author skilfully weaves all 4 stories together.

I did enjoy the book, but even with name headings for each chapter there were a lot of characters to keep a track of between all the stories, and as a result many of them were lacking any real depth. And me with my scattered memory found it hard to keep track!

Although the story did draw me in, it wasn't a case of not being able to put the book down kind of interest, but more a case of enjoying it while reading until the next time. There were also a couple of times that the story-line seemed a bit far-fetched, and at times the characters acted kind of strangely in order to keep the suspense of the story going. So, you did need to suspend your disbelief along the way, but mostly for the sake of the story.

Criticisms aside, it is a good read and I loved the look across the century at the different lives of the women involved. Also I enjoyed the way the author brings in the fact that we are the Bride waiting for the ultimate Groom, Jesus, at the end of the story. If you are looking for a fun, fulfilling and full-of-love-story-romance kind of read, then this is the book for you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kid's camp 2012

This year's Kid's camp (for the kids in our various projects) was possibly even better than last year's. We only had a team of 6 who came to help from Finland (last year it was 26!), but we had a LOT more local volunteers, and many more children (almost 60), so we ended up at around 80 people again. The theme of this year's camp was "Ti si Dragocjen" ("You are precious") and each child (and adult!) was made to feel that way throughout the camp!

The camp was held once again in the lovely location of Bardaca lake about an hour from Banja Luka, although we were so busy we didn't really have a lot of time to enjoy the scenery ;-)
Here are most of the Finnish team: Mirkku, Krista, Sanni, Tuukka and Noomi (only Minna is missing) with Ruut and Rebekka, two of Rami, my teammate's daughters: Yes, only one guy, Tuukka, but he did a great job, as did the rest of the team:
So, what happened on camp? We started each day with Neven leading morning gymnastics...
The day was filled with fun activities: but even during free time there was lots to do: Volleyball:
Table tennis:
 Or for those of a more sedentary nature: drawing and colouring:
Every morning the rooms were inspected and given a grade out of 5: The bottom four were the tents... And the lowest grade went to the Finnish team - not really leading by example at all! ;)
We had bible stories from Sinisa and others: (along with lots of good dramas and acting!)
And there was LOTS and LOTS of singing, led by Rami and I, including a song Rami wrote in Finnish which we then translated as the camp theme song "Vrlo Dragocjen" (Very Precious).
Each day ended with a fantastic time around the campfire (and this year we actually had a campfire thanks to Sinisa!)
At the campfire, we had a lot of fun: and I managed to fulfill my acting aspirations (for the first time in Serbian/Bosnian!) in two dramas which I remembered from my childhood camping experiences: below is our version of "Mommy, mommy, I broke my arm" which went down soooo well: In the other we did a version of "21 today" in which David killed me off... And the kids LOVED that one too!!
And we also had some games: Here is balloon dancing musical chairs...
And after the campfire, I organised fun and games for my room while waiting for everyone to finish showering before lights out: here is Snjeza trying to find the others in "Chorova Baba" ("blind granny"):
And here is the whole mob :-) It was a great room, and we had a deal: fun and games until lights out and then silence and sleep... and it worked (well mostly!)
Each day there were different workshops for the kids to take part in. Here the art workshop, run by Tanja and Tanja, are showing some of the things that they did, including life size pictures of themselves (they had to lie on the paper and someone drew round them, and then they did the rest!):

 Rami's workshop: "Robin Hood" was making a bow and arrow and then learning how to shoot it:
 Here is Ljilja testing one out:
And all of the kids showing how it is done:
The dance workshop doing their thing:
There was also a sport workshop which was run by Neven (thanks to Tanja for the pic of them showing their pyramid!):
And I ran a music workshop: We made shakers out of bottles, a lovely workshop banner, and learnt to sing a "Seek ye first" (in the local language) in a round:
But I am most proud of the fact that we actually made up a lovely song for us to sing called "Dosli smo na kamp" (We came to Camp*) which we then taught to the whole camp:
The food was phenomenal, and the cook, Ankica (one of the moms) really outdid herself. Ljilja also organised for us to get donations of juice and chocolate which went down well with the kids!

One of the days we had a "surprise" and it was a PiƱata! It took a LONG time to break which was actually great as each child got at least 2 goes at it! Here is little Senija having a go:
On the last day we had an "adventure" which summarised everything we learnt on camp: Here they are drawing a portrait of themselves with their noses (and there is a Bible verse about how precious they are to God already written on the paper!!)
We learnt about how to deal with our feelings so Tanja had them guessing which face went with which feelings:
Irena had them guessing which kind of touches were "red light" (not good) and which were "green light" (good):
And Dragana had them look into the treasure box to see themselves in the mirror and realise that "you are the biggest treasure":
There were a couple of other "stations" and each group went round the course and then ended up with me until all the rest of the groups finished... so yes, I entertained an ever-expanding group for almost an hour and half... Singing, Simon says, and other different games...  It was fun, but I was happy when I was done ;-)

Camp would not be the same without our camp mascot, the Kaaikenen's dog "Pyry" (the y is like a oo sound): Here he is with Emina, one of the volunteer moms:
We are all just so grateful that everything went off without a hitch and that no one got hurt! Everyone had a great time and all the kids are already asking "is there going to be a camp next year?"!!

*English translation of the song: "We came to camp, so we could hang out together, and learn a lot from lovely people. It is fun here while we play, singing good songs glorifying God - because He is with us wherever we may be, and He thinks that we are all precious!!"
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