Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian Floods...

My heart is heavy... Watching the news, and seeing the reports of how many people have died, how many displaced...  meeting with people in Banja Luka and surrounds who have lost everything in their houses... and realising the scale of things when just in Banja Luka they say over 2000 homes have been flooded - and we weren't even that badly affected: the whole of the cities of Doboj, Samac, Bijelina, etc were all under water...and that is just in Bosnia - don't forget Serbia and Croatia were hit as well... and not just homes, but infrastructure, bridges, etc destroyed... my heart is just full of sadness for everything that is going on...

And then I think about the good side: the thousands of young and old people who have mobilised to help: sorting out humanitarian aid, helping people clear away debris and crap (literally, unfortunately, this is the reality of flooding in cities...) from their houses... helping to build up flood defenses so the rivers don't come into even more areas... and just getting out and helping others!!

A good example of people helping others: I was watching a report last night on TV when a reporter asked someone on the street in the city of Doboj what they needed most and the man humbly replied "well I really wish I could have those kind of boots like you have on (rubber boots) as all I have is plastic bags over my shoes (showing the shoes) and they don't work, my feet have been wet for 3 days..." and the reporter sits down on a bench, takes off his boots and gives them to the man and walks off...

Let us hope that this kind of kindness and giving attitude continues, as the hard part is just beginning!

There have been enough photos of the horror of the floods - you can just google and find all that you want. So, I wanted to share some fun ones with you instead - and this one is also a little good news: at least for the one cow who managed to find her way to safety by climbing up onto the second floor...hehe
And another, just for fun as well - if you are in trouble and you can't do much about it, you may-as-well play your accordion and have a good time while you wait for help to arrive...love it!

If you are a praying person, please keep these countries in your prayers.

If you want more information about what is going on - here are some links:

If you want to help in some way, you can contact me on the form down below right ->

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Always expect the unexpected...

Yesterday, Ljilja and I went again to Celinac (about 15 minutes from Banja Luka) to finish up the Business training we started last week. The kids did really well and here they are with their certificates. The lady in red is Ziada who set up the training for us.
While we were doing the training in the morning, the school director came to see what we were doing. He was so enamoured that he asked us if we were free in the afternoon to come and work with a younger group. Granted it was mostly because one of his teachers was out sick and he was looking for a replacement, but it was also a way to get some more of the kids thinking differently about business. Despite the fact that we actually had a full afternoon, we managed to turn it around and make it work.

We went through the first day of the training, Ljilja did the explanation at the beginning and here I am summing up at the end:
And here is the group at the end of the training: we had a great time with them - and they learnt a lot.
We got back to Banja Luka and I got things ready for our health workshop with Tanja and Natasha. After having a good time with them last time, we were not expecting to have problems with the kids this week. Unfortunately, for some reason, even the kids that are normally good were giving us problems...not to talk about the normally troublesome kids... and so it was really hard for us to teach anything. In the end we called their carer and sent some of the kids to go get ready for bed, and it was much better after that...

Once again Tanja did most of the heavy lifting and Natasha and I helped. This time we did a little play for the kids (wish I could have got a pic of us - Tanja and I with cigarettes trying to convince Natasha that she wants to smoke, and her having none of it!! You will just have to imagine it...). Here is Tanja showing the kids some of the different poisons that are found in cigarettes: 
I think it was good that we sent some of the kids away (even though it is kind of like admitting defeat) as the rest of the kids were then actually able to learn something... (and we went up later to go say goodnight and make peace with them so they wouldn't be too mad with us!) 

It is always good to expect the unexpected and adjust accordingly... and yesterday was the kind of day where unexpected was the order of the day!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Blogging for books review: A Table by the window

Growing up with Italian-French parents in a restaurant and with one failed restaurant has led Juliette D'Alisa to her current career in food writing. Based in Portland, Oregon, the story starts with her brother Nico wanting once again to open a restaurant with her, but she is sure whether she wants to take the plunge. She is finally happy in her new career and over her heartbreak from the chef at the last restaurant. She decides to dabble in internet dating, and before she sees that is not for her and takes her profile down, she is contacted by Neil from Memphis who is an immunologist and seems to be her kindred spirit.

The story evolves, and the author includes rich details about food (including recipes the main character uses) and the places the character goes to, from Portland to France, and also some interesting things about immunology! The story really keeps your attention, and I didn't want to put the book down, and I especially love the fact that I could learn so much about other things as well. She also weaves in aspects of the main character's faith journey which is also very special.

This is one of those stories that you really don't want to end... and I was so glad to find out that the author has written the sequel to this story, which I am looking forward to. I also love the fact that she puts the recipes into the book as well - there are many that I want to try out.

I would recommend this to anyone, especially foodies, and travel fundis and anyone who likes a good wholesome story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Bloggers <http://www.bloggingforbooks.org> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Booklook review: Critical Condition

Having already read and enjoyed many of Richard L. Mabry books, (including another one "Stress test" for booksneeze - which is what is now booklook). This one started off off with a bang with a murder on the front lawn of the main character, Dr. Shannon Frasier, and in the story she is taken through a wild roller coaster ride of action not only through the murder investigation(s) but also in her personal life as well.

I love the way Richard manages to weave in realistic faith dilemmas which make one think about one's faith while reading, and not just about the wonderful mystery that is unfolding before you. And once again the mystery is completely unpredictable right up to the end (and I am usually quite good at figuring things out, but his stories always leave me going "wow, that was unexpected"!)

I really do recommend his writing - so if you have a penchant for murder mysteries, but also want to be intellectually and spiritually challenged by more than just a mystery story, then I would recommend this story to you - as well as any from the same author. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Jack of all trades...

On Tuesday night in my English conversation class, we talked about the phrase "jack of all trades" (someone who is able to do a lot of things well) and I realised that it really described my week:

I started by spending time on Monday morning doing something I LOVE: writing... I have been asked to write for a YWAM prayer website about the Balkans, and so have been working hard on that in between everything else this week...

On Monday and Tuesday afternoons, Ljilja and I were in the neighbouring town of Celinac to run a BEST business training course (this is the 11th since I learnt how to run it in 2009) for the final year economic students at the local high school...
As Ljilja is learning how to run the course herself, she started us off (above) and I carried on (below): it is so much nicer having two of us doing the training!
The "kids" were great fun: here are "Dionis" who were doing really well until they got the "thief" life card, and all of their money was stolen... I think they learnt their lesson!
Not Hugo Boss, but Yugo!
The "Reds" seem to be having fun!
It is always great to do these trainings, and one of our partners in Celinac was very keen for it to be done in the school there - as they organised it all for us, we were happy to oblige!

On Wednesday night, we started our second health workshop in the Children's Home (see about the first one here and here). We will do 4 weeks on anti-smoking in the hopes that we can show them why NOT to start smoking. Tanja did all of the heavy lifting, and Natasa and I were there mostly as crowd control. We worked with the kids that come to the book club usually, so we know them all well (and know which ones to keep calm!).

Tanja teaching on lungs and oxygen... and proof that the kids were quiet for at least 30seconds!
Natasa helping some of the girls to put the names of the parts of the lungs in the right place...
 Showing us the finished product:
Then it was time to colour in...
Our "no smoking" signs!!
Luckily, after a busy 3 days, Thursday and Friday are holidays! So, cleaning house, making pizza for lunch and carrying on with writing (and doing some resting in between) were on the cards for Thursday... and more of that for Friday! I hope you enjoyed a look at my "jack of all trades" kind of week...which is kind of what my weeks look like all the time...and hopefully I am good at all of my trades: and not as the saying goes "jack of all trades, master of none"!

(In case you were wondering, I am deliberately trying not to put identifying pictures of the any kids under 18 on my blog, thanks for understanding!)
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