Saturday, June 29, 2013

Unexpected new kitchen and hallway...

My landlady is great, we love her. Every year she makes some improvements to the house. On the one hand this is good, but on the other hand means we have to put up with workmen, etc coming and going...and it usually is at an inconvenient time, oh well.  This year two things were on the agenda: a new front door, and to take the panelling off the ceiling in the kitchen (as it was starting to seriously look like it would fall down on top of us...) Both of these things seem innocuous, but reality is: nothing is at it seems here in Bosnia!!

The front door was mostly done while I was luckily gone doing stuff with the team - so Ljilja took the brunt of that. The frame also had to be replaced, so it was actually quite a big job, and LOTS of dust was generated... So, while we already had a dirty house, our landlady decided it was best to also do the kitchen... After the team left on Thursday morning (the 20th) she told us on Thursday night late that the workmen would be coming at 7.30am on Friday to do that... so now it was my turn to be on duty.

They came and started working, and when halfway done realised why it was falling down: the ceiling plaster above the panelling had been soaked in a flood from my landlady's bathroom (and this before we moved in, so over 10 years ago) and slowly had disintegrated and fallen on top of the panelling. So, take the panelling out and guess what: half the ceiling fell down as well. Unexpectedly, we were now without a usable kitchen until the ceiling could be fixed up properly...
And of course things weren't helped by the fact that it was Orthodox Pentecost and no one wanted to work on the weekend or even into the next week because of the red letter days! So, we were looking at Wednesday at the earliest for getting our kitchen back. Aaargh...

I had already invited all my volunteers from the Children's Home project to Ihtus on Saturday afternoon and the plan was to bake up a storm of goodies to treat them! But without a kitchen, the plan became make "peppermint crisp tart" (Transkei mud!) as I luckily had the needed ingredients (I have to bring stuff from SA, as you can't get it here). We had a great time hanging out together and enjoying the special treat: (and aren't they all lovely :)
And another stroke of luck is that Ljilja and I already had a "groupon" discount thingie for a hotel on a lovely mountain called "Kozara" about an hour from Banja Luka, so we managed to get away there for two nights for a break: otherwise I think I would have gone insane without a kitchen! It was also nice just to get away and have a break after the craziness of the last couple of months...despite the fact that the weather changed while we were there so it rained most of the time... this is the view from our window: gorgeous!
And then Wednesday arrived and our friend Damjan came to finish up after the other workmen - by painting everything a lovely shade of yellow. And Ljilja came up with some great ideas to make everything a little different and special (and I just helped her put them up). Here is the finished result: the photos are of Cape Town on the right and Trebinje (Ljilja's hometown) on the left. (and yes, I have a lot of books :)
On the opposite wall is one of Ljilja's creations: a photo clock... with a mix of mine and Ljilja's photos. The photo doesn't do it justice - it is 1,2mx1,2m and so is actually quite big and I love it!
The kitchen is now just so light...(this is what it looked like before) and we have a new linoleum floor as well as no ugly panelling on the ceiling... making everything much brighter!
And on the wall in there is another of Ljilja's ideas: a "Fruit of the Spirit" cross... just as a reminder to us to pick up our cross every day and be filled with the Spirit, so we can display the fruit... love peace joy, etc (and if you are struggling to read it, it is in the local language: ljubav, mir, radost)
So, unexpectedly we now have a completely "new" kitchen and hallway...and we are very happy with both!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fun day... despite the heat :)

Today we went to the Children's Home with the team to play with the children... but it was HOT! So, we started off inside, in the nicely air-conditioned dining room... and made masks. Sara showing how she wears the rest of the paper :)
 And I with Darinka who is wearing hers the right way... 
We played really nicely inside and made a HUGE mess:
But it was really fun... and it was great to see how the team was interacting with the children despite the language barrier... There was only Tanja and I to translate today, and despite that it went really well :)

After we finished and cleaned up, we went outside to play, but as it was HOT (did I already say that?) it was a game that included WATER so it was really fun... A version of "duck, duck, goose" with a sponge full of water... called "drip, drip, drop": you drip, drip, drip, drip, and then on the person you choose to chase you, you "DROP" all the water out of the sponge... genius :) As it was 35 in the shade it was a GREAT game! Although we did look a bit worse for the wear afterwards: Here I am with team leaders, Elsa and Kajsa:
After that I had to go "teach" my English class... {I did have a new shirt, as I knew about the water, a pity that my jeans were wet too :)} Luckily I had some of the team with me and they tortured my poor students - making them talk in English for half an hour... (this is beginner level, so it was really hard for them! But they did well, and in the beginning they didn't know ANY English, so I count it a success...). I did have to translate for them every now and again...but otherwise they did really well. Especially as I hadn't prepared them at all (I am horrible, I know!) 

It was the last time for the school year, we will start up in September again, so I got a picture of the class... some were missing, but this is my fun group - they all do it as a "hobby" and to blow off a bit of steam, and if they learn a little English, that is great...
This heat is unreal... to think two weeks ago I was going to bed with a hot water bottle as it was that cold... but despite the heat (which isn't going to let up for a while it seems...) it was a really fun day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

International Cultural Night

The team from YWAM Carlisle are from 7 different countries, so trying to organise a cultural night for just one country was kind of hard. So, I decided to hold an "international" one... and it was a great success! Here is the team with their respective flags:
Which had been used for decorating the centre:
The team had gone out the night before handing out flyers in town, but even with that and with the English class, and other "regulars", we still only expected 20-30 people to come... so we were quite overwhelmed when over 60 people showed up. They just kept coming! So, we moved the evening outside, and luckily the weather was really nice...

We started off with a quiz in 4 groups: 20 questions about all 7 countries. It was really fun! (and not just because my group won!)

After the quiz, it was time for some refreshments: food from all over!


Then it was time to hang out together, sharing aspects of our different cultures - but it was too dark to take pictures of all the dancing that went on outside, from Užičko Kolo to line dancing - a lot of fun was had by all!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Carlisle Team at the Children's Home

On Saturday we went to the Children's Home to have some fun with the kids. We first had an indoor craft activity, and it was a good one! I think the volunteers enjoyed it as much as the kids... 
The team and 5 local volunteers helped the kids:
 Here is Tanja helping Aco... it isn't as easy as it looks:
 And what were we making? Boats... very cool!
Then it was time to go outside and play some games...after playing together on the wonderful new playground, we decided it was too hot to do too much running, so we girls (and a few of the younger boys) played a fun sitting down game:
Sofija enjoying the new playground equipment :)
Some of the boys played football (despite the heat!), while one of the team, Christian, sat with Mladen and Aco for almost 1/2 hour - just hanging out and figuring out ways to keep them entertained... what language barrier? And we were all very happy that he was keeping them busy as they are normally terrorists, and when they eventually got bored, sure enough, they came over and ruined the game for the girls... so the fact that he kept them busy for that long without knowing their language is truly amazing!
On Monday night it was our last book club, and so the team came to do a drama for us... it was the the whole bible in one drama! How cool is that? The kids at first were quite restless, but after the first 15 seconds they were watching amazed, and calling out the different parts "there's the devil", "there's Jesus"... it was very cute! 
After the drama, we handed out the prizes for the children who regularly attended throughout the school year... here are most of them with their prizes (which they could hardly wait to open!). We had donations of toys, school supplies, sweets, and even a local children's magazine each, so the prizes were pretty cool!
We plan to go at least once more to the home to hang out with the kids and our wonderful volunteers... it is always fun to see how the kids interact with the foreigners and find ways to communicate even when they can't speak English... (and it helps them improve their English when they do know!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sally's visit

This past weekend we were blessed by a visit from Sally, who is part of an organisation "TEN" which is a Christian organisation which works across Europe through local people working in their own countries. She was here to see Sinisa and meet Ljilja, and it was easier for Ljilja and I to host her, so that is what we did.

On Sunday, after church, we took here for a short walk around the Kastel and to Safikada's "grave":
Safikada is Banja Luka's "Juliet", and the legend is that she fell in love with her "Romeo", an Austria-Hungarian soldier and they pledge their undying love for one another. He was sent to the front lines (some say on the influence of her father, who was one of the main Muslim leaders) where he was killed... She was devastated and went to the soldiers who manned the noon-day cannon, and begged them to allow her to place flowers in the barrel so they would shoot off to heaven and go to her love. They all knew about her forlorn story and so allowed her to do so... she waited to one side and once the cannon fuse was already lit, she threw herself in front of the cannon and legend has it was thrown to the spot where her "grave" is today. People still light candles to this day (esp around Valentine's day) to unrequited love... that is the legend of Safikada!

The afternoon was far too hot to carry on exploring, and so we left it for later... but it was dark by the time she was done with Sinisa and Olja, but at least she got to see Banja Luka in all its beauty at night... The only photo that we did get was of the downtown monument to the earthquake which happened in October, 1969 (20 people killed, over 65000 homeless... almost 60% of Banja Luka destroyed... it was a bad one! For those that are history buffs, there is a newsreel film about the earthquake here). The clock commemorates the exact time the earthquake happened, and is based on an actual clock that stopped because of the earthquake... Here is Sally beside it:
She already left this morning to go back to England... it was great having her come and visit and we look forward to the next time!!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Game night!

A team from YWAM Carlisle is here for just over 2 weeks, and we are having a great time with them. There are 9 of them, but they come from 7 countries: England, USA, Canada, Norway, Germany, The Netherlands and Finland... so really from all over!

We are running English classes with them on Wednesday nights, but last night we had a special game night with whomever wanted to come... and it was great fun!We started with the "name game" where you have to describe the famous people written on slips of paper to the rest of your team (without using the name) and hopefully they will guess many in the 30 seconds you have. It is a great English learning game which I actually use in my classes as well... but we added a second part where you have to act out the people you have already guessed (so you know whose names are on the paper, so when they act out "singer" you just have to go through all the names until you get the right one...) And that was great, as the not-so-great English speakers turned out to be great actors so it evened things up a bit!!

After that, we played different games in smaller groups... (and apologies for the lack of photo quality - I was just using my phone...)

Rummy... (I think?)
Guess who?
And Big Boggle (which was fair because all of them were second language English speakers as the ones from the team were from Norway and Holland! But I did have to adjudicate some of the words coming out of the group :) )
It was a great night and I think everyone who came enjoyed themselves...

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Norn Iron

The conference attendees in front of Stormont in Belfast
I just spent 5 days at a Faith in Conflict Conference in what is otherwise known as Northern Ireland... The conference was held in Rostrevor, which is a village on the border with Ireland, and so the view from my window was actually the Republic of Ireland across the loch. It is a beautiful place, and the people at the YWAM base are great, so besides the great content of the conference, I also had a wonderful time in the surroundings as well.
The conference was about reconciliation and people from all over the world, including Palestine and Nigeria, where conflict has been around faith, attended. Four of us from Central Europe (pictured below in front of Stormont) attended and it was a great time for us as we examined what it means to have faith in areas of conflict.
We spent one day going into Belfast together and it really was a special day of meeting different people who are working at reconciliation in Northern Ireland...

Jonny Clark, YWAM Ireland leader, was our awesome tour guide: He grew up in Belfast, and also led a YWAM work there for a while, so he was a perfect guide...
We started off in Clonard Monastery with a talk by Steve Stockman, a Presbyterian Minister, and Father Martin from the Catholic church, about their relationship and what they have been doing to build bridges between the two communities. 
The fun thing is, I met Steve in South Africa in 2000 when he brought a team from Northern Ireland to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, and I hosted him and the team for that... he was a bit shocked when I got off the bus which was really fun! Great to see him again!
Besides hearing great stuff from lots of good people, we also got to see some of the areas that are well known for being part of the troubles, the Falls road and the Shankhill Road...

Catholic mural on the Falls road:
 Protestant mural near the Shankill Road:
 A "peace wall" in west Belfast...
It wasn't all conference, conference, conference... I did get to experience a little taste of Ireland. And you can't go to Ireland without going to the pub: And we even got to experience traditional Irish music in a little corner pub in Rostrevor:
My new friend, Belinda (who is from Australia, but of Irish descent) took us down and showed us how she plays along on her bodhrán:
This is my third trip to Norn Iron, and I have a feeling it won't be my last... Every time I go back I feel like my time there isn't finished yet. I felt this trip was particularly significant and am so glad that I went to this conference!
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