Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So long, farewell....

Instead of staying for 6 weeks as planned, the Ukrainian team had to leave 3 weeks early (due to visa issues - they were misinformed about how long Ukrainians could stay in Bosnia without a visa:( ) and we are very sad to see them go. They were one of the best teams we have ever had here and I will gladly host them again. They were flexible, willing, able and just FUN!

On their last night, we went to the Children's Home so we could run another "Book Club" with them. We were planning on running it inside in the dining room, but as often happens at the home, there was something going on in the dining room which meant we had to make another plan... so outside it was with our book club! We had the puppets again, but this time we actually had a couple of plays in the local language for the kids.
How did this work? Well we had two local volunteers reading the parts while the team did the puppetry :) They put their hands on the puppeteers shoulder to indicate when they should talk and it worked GREAT. Thanks to Tanja and Natasha for doing a great job... Natasha joked that she is going to add "acting" to her CV now! The kids LOVED it... we could have done a lot more plays, but the puppeteers' hands would have fallen off I think!
I finally got a pic of most of the team - missing are the two moms with babies :( I took it on Saturday at the Children's Home when were there, and it is such a great pic I wanted to share it with you...
Thank-you for all the good memories, and may God bless you as you go on your way...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ukrainian Cultural night

Last night it was the turn of the Ukrainians in the team to run a cultural night for us at EKC Ihtus. And we had a lovely addition of Ukrainian girls in national dress courtesy of our Ukrainian friends in Prijedor. It was a really good evening.

In the beginning we had bread and salt as we entered the "house". This is a sign of hospitality given and friendship accepted. Here Zhenya is explaining in Ukrainian and Tatyana is translating into English. Katja is waiting to serve the bread and salt:
As we went into the house we each accepted the friendship by taking the bread and salt - thereby saying we would stand by them in good times (bread) and bad (salt-like tears). Here are Dijana and Nirvana about to accept the friendship and hospitality offered by Zhenya and Katja:
 Inside yummy treats awaited us: something salty and something sweet, and of course I have already forgotten the Ukrainian names for them, but I will get the recipes as it was all yummy! Sofija, Tanja and Natasha, (three of my favourite people!) enjoying the food:
 We were then treated to a wonderful program, including violin:
 And a recitation of a poem (isn't she so sweet in her outfit?!)
Then a great presentation by Katja (translated again by Tatjana) about the Ukraine:
And I think everyone (and there were a lot of people) enjoyed themselves:
Thank-you guys for a wonderful Ukrainian night! There are more photos in the EKC Ihtus' album on Facebook.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ukrainian Team

A team from Vinnytsia in the Ukraine almost 2 weeks ago. The idea was to spend 6 weeks here, but due to restrictions on the length of stay allowed to Ukrainians, they will have to already leave next week... It has been so great to have them here, and I am sad to see them leave earlier than planned. But that is what happens sometimes...

I have been waiting to write this blog post until I have a photo of them all, but I keep forgetting to take one, and so you will have to wait to see their pretty faces!

Besides helping to run English Conversation Classes (which have been very popular - over 20 people coming along to them) and helping wherever they can in our various ministries, we have also spent time at the Children's Home. For our regular Book Club night they took some puppets and "sang" along with the kids to some Serbian kids songs (which they played off a computer). Ingenious! The kids loved it. Puppets are always a hit!
We also went on the weekend to play with the kids, and had such a great time  - one of the kids asked as we were leaving "are you coming again?" and when I said yes, he went "YAY"! Proof that we did a good job! The kids especially enjoyed teaching the team to say things in Serbian. Including getting one of the guys to say "Kiss me Belinda" - I played along and gave him a kiss on the cheek. No ideas, people! 

As there are two English people on the team, they also ran a great English cultural night at EKC
"Ihtus" on Friday - about 50 people came along to the evening, and enjoyed the lovely scones and cucumber sandwiches. And the pub quiz which was greatly contested and won by our Finnish contingent - no it wasn't rigged! This Friday they will run a Ukrainian culture night, which I am really looking forward to!

Here are some pics from last Friday night during the pub quiz...spot the British flags!

We will be carrying on with English classes and also visiting the Home again a couple of times before they leave to go to Croatia to carry on with their outreach there. And not just me, but many people in Banja Luka will be sad to see them go!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

random phone snapshots of my first 10 days back in Bosnia...

I flew into Zagreb via London from Cape Town, and then caught the 1.55pm bus which goes through Banja Luka, and drops you off at a petrol station. On the bus I met Henrik of Hotelpassion.info - he is travelling to every country in the world, and trying to get the record as the youngest person to do so:
And I got driven home by David (thanks David!) to find out that my landlady had dinner ready for me :)  (Ljilja, my housemate would have done it, but she was away!) Soup, stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes and Bosnian bread - yum yum!
After getting back on Thursday it was all systems go to get ready for a team coming from Romania. Finding accommodation and getting it all ready for them as well as setting up stuff for them to do... They arrived on Wednesday, and on Thursday I sent them on a scavenger hunt around Banja Luka to find out more about the city. It was a beautiful day and we met up later at my favourite "pita" place... not the greatest picture, but this is "random phone snapshots" isn't it? The team is made up of Ukrainians, Americans, and people from England and Holland.
Last night we had English Conversation Classes with the team and it was so much fun, that I didn't remember to take any photos... but I did get a shot after this morning's practice of our two new band members, both from the Ukraine:)
Besides helping with English classes, the team will also be hosting Cultural Evenings, and helping out at the orphanage as well. It is fun having them here!

And now one last really random photo for you: "this little piggy went to market"... he was just looking at me with such a knowing look, that I had to get a shot of him :)

Monday, April 01, 2013

More Family fun in pictures... now the chaos has died down!

The chaos has calmed - and I now have time to reflect on the last month's craziness... and here is some of it in pictures!

We did a lot of sight-seeing... Including the castle in Cape Town. A highlight for the boys! Here is my brother's family:
And the boys in front of the torture chamber in the castle: :)
A highlight for the adults was the Constantia wine farms: here we are with Megan (it was her first day!) who is Robin's cousin, and Barbara, Robin's mom:
A nice sibling shot:)
Luke and Andrew loved the statue at the Waterfront:
Whereas Hope didn't really care where she was, as long as she was fed and watered and played with... she did so well and it was great being able to meet her!
Celebrating Kev's Argus ride at Kirstenbosch.

I missed this day, but they went to various animal farms near Paarl... including one which had a reptile show: Here is Mom enjoying a "snake moment" with the boys!
Then three days before Kev left, Astrid and her family arrived: Alfresco dining:
Boys hanging out:
And the girls:
Amy was very helpful:)
On the last night we had "make your own sundaes" for the kids and Irish coffees for the adults... fun times!
And we managed to remember to get some family photos...
Including the inevitable crazy one :)
We did a WHOLE lot more and there are loads more pictures, but these ones definitely sum up the fun of having family altogether for the first time in forever!

Blogging for books review: Unstoppable

Since the beginning of the year, I have read over 40 books... part of my goals for my 4-month sabbatical was to read as many books as I could - ranging from light-hearted easy reads to in-depth books about a range of subjects. This book fell somewhere in the middle. It has a lot of in-depth insight into how to live a life of faith and yet is light-hearted and easy-to-read.

Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs and yet lives his life to the full. He truly is unstoppable, and this book inspires us to live our lives in such a way that we show our faith in action as well. He has a ministry as a motivational speaker which takes him all over the world, and he shares from his life-story and from the stories of people he has met through his organisation "Life without Limbs".

Here is a trailer for the book:

I was inspired by this book and enjoyed it more than his other books. I recommend it to anyone who would like to be inspired to life their lives to the full for God!

I received this book for free from the publisher through the blogging for books program, I was not required to give a positive opinion, and this opinion is my own. 

Booksneeze review: The Survivor

"The Survivor" by DiAnn Mills is the second book in the "Crime Scene Houston" series, but it was still fine to read it without having read the first book in the series. The series features Kariss Walker who is a fiction author who focuses on writing crime-fiction.

In this book she is approached by Dr Amy Garrett - who went through a horrific attack when she was a child - to write a novelised version of the attack and her story. Unfortunately, what neither of them realise, this new book provokes the attacker to come out of hiding, and he starts targeting the two ladies.

FBI agent, Tigo Harris (also featured in the first book in the series "The Chase") helps them to face up to the attacker. He is also trying to figure out whether he wants to submit his life to God or not, which is the one thing that is keeping him out of a relationship with Kariss, as she doesn't want to have a relationship with an unbeliever, despite the obvious sparks between them!

The story is fast-paced, suspenseful and full of twists and turns. There are many suspects and you are kept guessing right up until the end. I love the faith aspects that are drawn into the story through Tigo's search for meaning in his life. I would highly recommend this book as a good read to anyone wanting to escape reality for a while.

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.
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