Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Raaff's visit :)

It was so great having my "kumovi" come to visit. Trevor, Carol, Anna and Christopher and I had a very busy, semi-holiday, semi-work week and it really was sad to see them go (they went on to Croatia for a REAL holiday!). Besides the visits to the orphanage, the helped us in re-organising two of the rooms in our building (which were over packed with stuff...) and we had a wonderful South African evening at Ihtus.

They also did the "photo scavenger hunt" which I give to my teams to do - to find out a little bit more about Banja Luka. They have to find and take pictures at the main places around town... Here they are at the Fortress Kastel:
I actually joined them (and helped a bit!) after that - here they are at the crooked clock which is a monument to the 1969 earthquake.
There were other photos, but I will just bore you with one more: of all of us in front of the Temple of Christ the Saviour: Love it!
The kids were taken for haircuts, as they are MUCH cheaper here than in England: Anna looking lovely with her new shoulder length look.
But the exciting hairstyle prize does have to go to Christopher's new lightening bolts! 
On their last night, as I already mentioned, we had a wonderful South African evening: starting with a quiz which Trevor did really well and which Ljilja won - which isn't surprising as she lives with me and has been there... but there were prizes up until 5th place, so no one complained!  The quiz was followed by some awesome food - including springbok biltong!
Carol unveiling the bobotie:
And the whole family with all the food and most of the people in the background - and me explaining to everyone what everything is... bobotie with yellow rice, melk tart and peppermint crisp pudding :)
Even though we were busy, I think that they had a good time, and won't forget Banja Luka and Bosnia Herzegovina in a hurry! (and just to say, not all my visitors will be put to work - they specifically wanted to have a more missions experience with the kids!!)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Creative workshops!

In August, the children in the Children's Home are mostly back from Italy, or other places they go to over the summer, and bored out of their bracket. So, I normally try to organise some sort of fun activity for them. This year, my good friends, Trevor, Carol and their two kids Anna and Christopher are visiting now, and as they wanted to have a bit of "mission" experience, I decided to wait for them to go and do some sort of creative workshop... and they brought along some fun stuff from England so it really was fun!

The first day we took loom bands along... and the kids loved them! Here are two of the littlies showing how it is done without a loom: just using your fingers (Anna and Christopher are experts and were showing us all how to do it!!)
Here is Carol helping little M:
And here is another M showing us her handiwork at the end... she was FAST!
Having worked with these kids over many years, I can really testify that the loom bands were the best thing we have ever brought... the kids sat and made bracelets and were (mostly) well-behaved for almost 2 hours!! Amaaaazing...
We went the next day to do some more hands on sticking and cutting activities with tissue paper... and after an hour and a bit, it was enough for the kids and we decided to call it a day. (I have one motto with the kids at the Home, keep going while it is working, stop when it starts going wonky... and it works!).

{The fact that the kids sat for two hours the first day was partly testimony to the loom bands effectiveness, but also due to the fact that we had more local volunteers on the first day. I love my local volunteers!! We definitely couldn't do these workshops without them!}

But that said, we did manage to get two good looking end products: The first activity was to make a hand tree with green leaves...
The next was a tissue paper butterfly: (both of these posters will stay in the Home for them to enjoy!)
In the middle of the above poster is a translation of the following - I happened to see on Facebook in the morning, and decided to use it - we were already planning on doing the butterflies, and it just fit in well!
When it came time to say goodbye, some of the kids were really sad to see Anna and Christopher go... as you can see below. And I think Anna would go back every day of their stay here if she could!
Even though it can be chaotic, the teachers at the home are so grateful for the break and the kids love having something different to do as well! And I love giving them lots of hugs and love in between getting stuff done!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Last night, our friends Damjan and Tanja Vojnovic invited us to come and enjoy kukuruz (in SA we call them mielies, everywhere else: corn on the cob) at their place... We thought that it would be cooked in water on the stove (as did Tanja!) but Damjan had other ideas:
Inviting all the kids from the neighbourhood and us (and our guest Alma, who is visiting us from Sanski Most at the moment!) to enjoy them on the fire:
This is a pic of me, Alma, and Bojan and Snjeza Vojnovic with two of the neighbourhood kids:
After we were done, most of the kids left, but we stayed and hung out around the fire... it has been a long time since I enjoyed a good campfire (well other than at Kids Camp). 
It was a really nice surprise to have kukuruz on the fire - as Tanja says "with Damjan, you always have to expect the unexpected"!!

My room...

Ever since I had my own room from age 5, I have never been really good at keeping things tidy. I keep it clean, but clutter is fine by me (including on the floor...). And I don't really seem to notice it - so much so that one time my Dad actually picked up everything off the floor in my room and put it in black garbage bags in the garage, and it took my 5 days to realise!! Needless to say that it is good thing that I can shut the door to my room and leave it be when guests come :)

It was kind of getting time to do a spring clean and so this past week I decided to do one hour a day of decluttering and then finish up on Saturday. (And I was determined to get it done - on Tuesday the only hour I was actually at home between 8am and 9pm, I spent decluttering!). I needed to do it, as part of my bedroom is actually my home office: and I was beginning to go insane as I couldn't find stuff... Now it is fairly presentable!
I also have a couch (or spare bed when I have guests), library, exercise centre and music room as well... 
And I actually do have a bed :)
The flower and butterfly are both symbols of the death and resurrection of Christ (5 petals for his 5 wounds, and the butterfly showing new life). These are just a reminder to me to be mindful always of God's great love and grace to me :)

I hope you enjoyed seeing my (mostly) tidy bedroom! Don't blink, it won't last too long! 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Day out at Krupa na Vrbasu

So, one of my favourite places to take people or go for a nice day out is to Krupa na Vrbas (which is about 1/2 hour from Banja Luka). I don't know how many times I have been there now, but it is over 10 times...and I have written about it on the blog a few times as well :)

Now, Tanja who has lived her whole life in Banja Luka has never ever been!!!! So, Ljilja and I decided to make a day of it with her and her family. Tanja was joking how funny it is that she was being taken to one of the touristic destinations of Banja Luka by a South African!!

After weeks of rain (and this week MORE flash flooding after 79 litres fell in 24 hours in Banja Luka- this is more than the average monthly rainfall in ONE day...) it was finally sunny today, so off we went! You can see in these pictures how high the river is (it is the highest I have ever seen it!)
 Above is Aco, Marina, Tanja, myself and Ana on the bridge and below Ljilja, Tanja and I:
Before we went to the (new) restaurant for lunch, we went for a lovely (albeit a little muddy) walk along the river... 
And in case you didn't believe me that the water is high - here are two pics for comparison: the water today, and the water 5 years ago in August (what it normally looks like at this time of year):

Tanja and the girls enjoyed their first time to Krupa (Aco had been before) and for Ljilja and I it was a much needed day off from our busy schedules!!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Booklook review - Life behind the wall

"Life behind the wall" by Robert Elmer is actually 3 books in one anthology, all dealing with different generations of 13-year-olds living in the shadow of the Berlin wall, but at three different times in its history.

The first novel "Candy Bombers" is set in 1948, "Hidden Bunkers" in 1961 and "Smuggler's Treasure" in 1989. Each story tackles a different aspect of living with the wall: in its beginning stages, in the middle and when it finally comes down.

Although this set is meant for younger readers (it is marketed for 8-12 years), I really enjoyed reading it as well. It was a great way to actually get inside the history books and experience what it must have actually been like to live through those different eras. The characters are engaging, the plot keeps you thinking and all in all, this is a really good read.

I would recommend it immensely for the intended age-group, as it really is a great way for them to learn about what happened in Germany during the communist era, especially about the Wall and what it meant for the people living at that time. I would also recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good engaging and yet educational read.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> 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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